The Toledo Rockets will initiate the 2021 season with a new full-time starting quarterback on the gridiron. But their former starting quarterback will remain on the sidelines, operating in a different role.
Eli Peters, the primary starter in 2020, is officially retired from football after multiple injury complications, as confirmed by head coach Jason Candle during MAC media day on Tuesday. Peters, after starting 14 games for the Rockets over the past three seasons, will continue his time on campus as a graduate assistant.
“Eli Peters had his career cut short due to a medical disqualification,” Candle confirmed at media day. “He’s back with our program, helping coach us, and we’ll keep him around.”
Peters’ player bio was removed from the 2021 football roster on Tuesday afternoon, confirming the news.
Toledo has been plagued by injuries at the quarterback position ever since former All-MAC selection Logan Woodside departed from campus. Woodside’s successor Mitchell Guadagni suffered season-ending injuries in October in back-to-back 2018 and 2019 seasons, expediting the timeline for Peters to gain on-field experience. Peters struggled to remain on the field as well, unable to finish the 2019 and 2020 seasons due to injuries.
The Jacksonville, Florida, native hangs up his pads as the 15th all-time leading passer in program history with 3,771 yards. He ranks 10th in the passing touchdowns department with 33. Peters ended his college career on a high note by setting a personal-best 363 passing yards against Ball State last November. Earlier in the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, he shattered his career-high in passing touchdowns, delivering four dimes against arch-rival Bowling Green.
As a graduate assistant, Peters will work with several of his colleagues in which he shared a quarterback room. Program veteran Carter Bradley has four starts as a Rocket and has accumulated 1,405 yards, 10 touchdowns, and seven interceptions over the course of the three seasons.
The other returning candidate in Toledo’s quarterback battle is Dequan Finn, who thrives with his mobility. Finn only has 13 passing attempts to his name in his two seasons in blue and gold, but his 141 rushing yards on 25 attempts could allow him to see more action on the field in 2021.
Additionally, Toledo brought in Tucker Gleason from the transfer portal. The former Georgia Tech recruit has yet to throw an FBS pass, but he was the 31st highest rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 high school class.
“Now you gotta turn the page and have one of these three guys lead our team, and I think they all bring a little something different to the table,” Candle said. “All three had good springs, all three put their best foot forward to say they can be that guy.”
The Rockets will open their 2021 campaign at the Glass Bowl with Bradley or Finn under center, and Peters on the staff, against FCS program Norfolk State on Sept. 4.