Adrian Peterson aiming for Emmitt Smith's rushing record

BY foxsports • July 19, 2013

FRISCO – Palestine native and reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson was at Frisco Liberty High School Friday, teaming up with Michael Johnson Performance for a two-day speed and agility camp.

The five-time Pro Bowl running back for the Minnesota Vikings has hosted football camps in Texas (Palestine and Tyler), Oklahoma and Minnesota but Friday's was the first time near the Dallas area.

"It's time for me to kind of hit home a little more," Peterson said. "When I came out of college I worked out at the Michael Johnson Performance Center, so I was familiar with the area. I just wanted to come back to the metro area and try to give back to the kids that don't have the opportunity to get the type of training they're receiving right now."

If you don't know Peterson's story, he has experienced some extreme highs and lows over the last 19 months. In December 2011, Peterson tore his ACL and MCL in a game against the Washington Redskins. He had surgery later that month and surprisingly recovered in time to start the 2012 season.

But not only was Peterson on the field Week 1, he went on to have one of the greatest rushing seasons in NFL history. Peterson finished only nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 yards as he guided the Vikings to a playoff berth. Along with MVP honors, Peterson was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year and he was voted the top player in the league by his peers.

"It's been an emotional roller coaster," Peterson said Friday. "Start with the lows and I was ultimately just able to bounce back and have a heck of a season. A lot of guys surrounded me and a lot of people had a hand in my success. Through everything, it was a bumpy road.

"You just got to persevere, keep your mind focused, keep your eyes on your goal and know that the road is not always going to be easy. You just got to get through things, that's just life in general. Ultimately, I was able to do that, put some hard work in and accept a lot of awards the past couple months."

The former Oklahoma standout said he has talked to many athletes with similar setbacks, including Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, and he's happy to be an inspiration.

At the same time, Peterson's heard about the athletes who have been injured and are criticized for not returning as quickly as he did.

"One thing I tell people is people's bodies are different, they heal differently," Peterson said. "They call me Wolverine. My body does heal pretty quickly, so everyone isn't built for that. But it's all about the work you put into it. I definitely made it hard on people, but it is what it is."

Peterson, 28, has 8,849 rushing yards in six NFL seasons. That means he needs 9,507 more yards to break Emmitt Smith's all-time rushing record. At Peterson's current pace, he'd have to play at least six and a half more seasons to become the new record-holder.

How often does Peterson think about breaking Smith's record?

"Not very often," Peterson said. "It's something that I want to accomplish just being the competitor that I am, but that's not something I focus on. I feel like me focusing more so on being the best player to help my team. I want to be the best player to ever play the game, first off. To do that, a lot of hard work comes with that. And I want to help my team win championships. I feel like by me doing that then the records will come. I try not to worry about them because I feel like they'll come eventually."

Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota