Peterson makes history with Penguins

Cole Peterson named youngest director of Football Operations and Player Personnel in the country. Photo courtesy of Robert Hayes

By Mikayla Mustard 

Cole Peterson has been named director of Football Operations and Player Personnel, making him the youngest person in the country to fill this role at the Division I level. 

“I am beyond thankful to coach Phillips for his belief in me, for this opportunity to help lead Youngstown State football with him and our staff,” Peterson said. “I’ve been able to be around a lot of great mentors at a young age to put me in the position I am today.”

As son of previous Penguins’ assistant football coach John Peterson, he looks to follow in his father’s footsteps. 

“My father is the reason I’m in the position I am today,” Peterson said. “I truly started working in the football office at age 9, going to work with him any chance I could, and fell in love with the game and wanted to be just like him.”

John Peterson was a decorated coach at the collegiate level with 30 years of experience. His background includes spending time with former Youngstown State University head coach and current university President Jim Tressel at The Ohio State University. 

Cole Peterson has a lot of experience as well. Prior to being a member of YSU staff, he volunteered for football teams at the University of Akron, University of Pittsburgh and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

At these schools, he worked as a football assistant from 2014-2017. In 2017, he became an assistant coach and a director of basketball operations at his high school alma mater, Pine-Richland. 

In 2018, he took over football operations and recruiting at YSU. This ultimately led him to the position he is in now. 

Having graduated in December 2021 from YSU with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Peterson said he is now prepared to tackle a new role with the Penguins.

C.J. Charleston, a junior standout wide receiver, worked with Peterson on the sidelines through his entirety at YSU so far.

“Cole brings a ton of energy that most older coaches do not bring, along with relatability between culture and areas in players lives that require someone who is around the same age to be there to reel us in and realize what is always at stake,” Charleston said. 

Among other players, sophomore linebacker Michael Voitus has developed a personal relationship with Peterson. 

“The fact that he is in our age group plays an effect with the impact he brings to the table because he can relate to what the players are going through and seeing on a daily basis through social media and music,” Voitus said. “In doing this, he can relate to players and create a bond most staff personnel can’t.”

Peterson said he is honored to be such a big part of the team.

“It is an honor to be on the sidelines with the team. I learn so much from those guys on a daily basis and try to be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as I can,” Peterson said. “Those guys make it fun to get up every day and head into work.”