Nevada football had one player honored on the All-Mountain West first team earlier this month, that man being Dom Peterson, who became the first Wolf Pack standout to make first-team all-conference as a sophomore since 2008 when quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running back Vai Taua and defensive end Kevin Basped did so in the WAC. Peterson was second in the Mountain West in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (13.5). He had 36 tackles and one forced fumble as Nevada went 7-5 overall, 4-4 in the Mountain West and qualified for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Ohio, which will be played Jan. 3.
For Peterson's stellar play this season, he is Nevada Sports Net's Wolf Pack Athlete of the Month for December, an honor presented in partnership with Champion Chevrolet. You can watch the full interview with Peterson below, or check out our Q&A with a portion of the conversation here.
Q&A with Dom Peterson
On being All-Mountain West first team
Dom Peterson: "This season's been pretty great in my opinion. We got a new coach in the spring and coming off that great year I had as a freshman, it was time to take the next step. I feel like Coach (Jackie) Shipp has done that to all of the D-linemen. In my opinion, I feel we work the hardest from start to finish and that's simply because of him and the type of work ethic he brings, the type of mentality he brings. He instilled that to me and all of the D-linemen. I'd like to thank him for where I am now and I'd also like to thank all my D-line brothers for going through that and also getting me better as well with them getting themselves together. I feel like this is a team award."
On what he learned as a youngster at Nevada
DP: "I definitely grew as a man. With the type of players we had here, the type of culture, when I was here my freshmen year they were trying to instill that into us. With the type of players we had, they'd work their hardest. Asauni (Rufus), Dameon (Baber). It was those type of players who were always running to the ball. Korey (Rush) was always running to the ball. It got to the point where if I was jogging on film, it would look like I was loafing almost. It would look like I wasn't doing my job. That's how (defensive coordinator Jeff) Casteel came in, that's how he set up the program and they kind of took it and ran with it. I just followed behind them. I've always respected guys who are older than me. When I saw how they did it and how they worked, Malik (Reed) and those guys, that's what made me start following in their footsteps."
On his love of the game
"I definitely enjoy playing the game. I've been playing this game since I was, like, 6 years old. I just have a good feel for this game, honestly. Obviously, I have a lot more to work on being a sophomore, but I definitely feel like I have enough free flow for the game, I have enough love that nothing is going to stop me from how I want to play and nothing is going to stop me from coming after the quarterback."
On his mentality trying to get to the quarterback
DP: "You just have to have that mentality that you're going to get there. It starts at practice where you're not really going against guys at your level (on the scout team), but that's where you practice the most and seeing the plays you're going to make. Practicing you club grip, practicing your technique that will get you there because when you come across somebody who might be more athletic than you, maybe a little bigger than you, you can rely on your technique. Now when you see the play, you don't freeze, you don't look like a deer in the headlights trying to make a play. You've seen it so many times, you've practiced it to now it doesn't really effect you when the play is there to make."
On his sparse recruitment because of his size (he's 6 feet, 295 pounds and had only three FBS scholarship offers despite recording 107 tackles, 17 sacks and 28 TFL as a senior for a state title team in Southern California)
DP: "When I transferred to Narbonne (High), I kind of learned how the politics worked. I wasn't at a program at first that I had to get into that. I just thought, 'If I work my hardest, something will happen.' Once I got to Narbonne, I started realizing that there are more political things to this than what I put on film. When I realized coaches would come up to me and say, 'If only you were 6-2,' or, 'If only you were an inch taller,' they'd do the little height test, the eye test and look at me and say, 'I don't think he can really do what he does on film against other players.' I was just happy that Nevada did what they did and took me late. I was happy to come here and I was happy to have that my chip on my shoulder as I came here and all of these schools that should have recruited me, I'm going to go ham on them and do what I have to do against them."
On losing to UNLV in back-to-back seasons
DP: "It hurts. I lost two times in a row. That's really hard to take, it's really hard to realize that's happened. We're going to work extra hard next year to get that Cannon back. I can almost guarantee you. I can guarantee you that. I was feeling a type of way. I thought we had this game in the bag and certain things just didn't work out in our favor. Last year, it happened the same way, too. There's nothing you can really do for this game of football. You win some and you lose some, but we're definitely focused on this next game coming up and we're definitely worrying about beating that team as well."
On playing in the the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
DP: "I'm happy to be in this bowl game. I'm definitely happy to have this opportunity to play football. Anytime when you can football, you can't so, 'No.' You definitely can't say 'No' to that. Knowing that everybody's been home, I've been watching social media things on everybody coming home (to Southern California) and happy to see each other, all the Narbonne alumni got together and was at Shakey's. I was sitting there with me and Lawson (Hall, who also went to Narbonne) and I said, 'It's crazy. This football game will take you so far in life. There are certain things you have to miss out on, but for the game of football.' We just shared a moment of, "You're my brother no matter what.' You have to realize these are really going to be your guys. When everybody else is gone and it's just you waking up at 5 a.m., whatever it is you have to do, these are your brothers you live next to. Football has gotten me so far in life, it's gotten me so many friends that I never thought I'd be able to see if I hadn't been in college. I'm just happy to be in a bowl game period."
On being an L.A. Clippers fan
DP: "I remember when my Godmom used to get tickets for free. She'd get them for free and we'd go there. There was no type of background, no type of culture, so I figured from here I could start my own type of culture. Also, I played travel ball and we were called the Junior Clippers Academic Basketball, the J-CAB. From there, I started seeing that red and blue and said, 'This might be my team.' I've always been looked at as weird in a way. All my L.A. guys asked me, 'How do you grow up in L.A. and you're not a Lakers fan?' It just happened like that. People have to be different."
On what he likes above living in Reno
DP: "I like going to Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe during the summer is fun and one of my friends has a cabin out there, so when it's cold you're just chilling with your friends. I actually like Lake Tahoe a lot. We go up there for the Fourth of July every year. That's one of the places I like going. Another place, I forgot what it's called, but back home it's called SkyZone. That's a nice little indoor trampoline spot, the idea of go-kart racing. There are a lot of fun things to do out here in Reno. It's definitely different from L.A., but I've grown to love Reno over the last three years."
On where his hair ranks among Wolf Pack players
DP: "It's up there. It's, like, top 10. We have some guys like Miles Beach, Gabriel Sewell. His hair is good. Then there's me. Lawson's is nice. My roommate Lamin Touray, he's got some nice dreads. He's up there. Breylon (Garcia), one of our freshmen. He's up there."
On the favorite Christmas present he's received
DP: "I remember when I got the first 2K17 (video game). It was a perfect. I remember getting it and I don't know why it was such a hyped game back then in high school. But 2K17." And, yes, he played with the Clippers.