Senior linebacker Blake Peiffer did not always realize that his dad had played professional football, but once he did, he started playing football and has found himself following a similar path to his dad. Blake grew up and played football in nearby Jackson Mo., and now at Southeast Missouri State University where his dad also played.
"Football in our household probably didn't get started until Blake was in fourth grade," Blake's mom Connie Peiffer said. "It has built after that. Watching Blake and his dad, when his dad was coaching him in youth football, it was exciting to watch and that they could develop that bond. They look at me as that mother that sometimes doesn't have a clue what she's talking about still. There's been lots of football. It's exciting to sit and listen to them talk about things and discuss certain strategies."
After playing as a center at Southeast during the 1970s, Dan Peiffer went on to have a career in the NFL playing for the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins.
"I asked him whenever I was a little kid to coach the football team because I knew he knew a lot about it," Blake said. "He basically instilled a work ethic in me from day one and whenever he came on that field it has just kept me going ever since."
Blake still talks to his dad before and after games and looks to him for advice on football. The Peiffer family comes to every home game, and at least one of them has been at every game Blake has played.
"We've always had that talk after the game," Blake said. "We'll sit down and talk on a Sunday morning or a Monday afternoon. We'll talk about what I did wrong, what I did good, what I can improve on for the next week and just everything."
Blake's parents watched their son break Southeast's single-season tackle record last season as well as be named to the several all-American teams. He was named to the College Sports Madness first team, Associated Press second team, Sports Network/Fathead.com second team and Phil Steele's third team.
"I was very excited when he made all-state his junior and senior year in high school, but I think last year when he got the all-American recognition at the end of the season, that probably excited me more than anything because I was just hoping," Dan said. "I told him, 'I was hoping you might just get honorable mention and that somebody would recognize you,' but then when he made several teams. I was extremely proud of him then.
"I told some friends, 'I'm more proud of him right now than anything I ever did myself.'"
Dan played 37 games in the NFL. He is also in Southeast's Hall of Fame.
"For him saying that, it means a lot because he was at the ultimate level and for him saying that me making all-American made him more proud than when he went pro, it's a good feeling," Blake said.
Blake's parents said that he is very goal-oriented. Blake said that he learned from football that you have to have goals in your life so you have something to aim for.
"In my mind I set the bar high, being the all-American, setting the tackle record, and I always strive to do better the next year and improve off that, and that's my goal for this year," Blake said. "Just practice hard or make sure everyone knows what they're doing because if everyone around me is doing their responsibility it means I can run around and do mine, and it'll come together that way."
Blake was named the Preseason All-OVC Defensive Player of the Year and was a preseason All-OVC selection this season. He was also named a Sports Network Preseason All-American and is on the Sports Network's Buck Buchanan Award watch list, which is awarded to the most outstanding defensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivison.
"It doesn't mean anything right now," Dan said of the preseason accolades. "He still has to do it on the field. The only thing it means right now is that he is on the radar, and they know he's there."
The Redhawks had a record of 3-8 last season and finished third to last in the OVC standings a year after winning the conference title with a 9-3 record.
"I want us to improve off last year," Blake said. "I'd love getting a conference championship ring again and go out on a high note and just come together as a team. We're like brothers right now, and I want us to have that family feel. And I know that if we do that we're going to come out and win a lot of games."
Blake tries not to think about what he will do after graduation and hopes he can continue playing football. He is an exercise science major and wants to either coach or be a trainer of some kind.
"It's a great honor," Blake said about attending his dad's alma mater. "I mean, he's my biggest fan in a way. He's my idol, really. I've looked up to him since I was a little kid, and once I really understood the fact that he was a pro football player I always wanted to follow in his footsteps, and I feel like I've done a good job up to this point."