CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BVM) – Only days after the Providence Day Chargers football team defeated Rabun Gap-Nacoochee in October 2022, Chargers defensive back Chris Peal announced his commitment to the University of Georgia Bulldogs.
From there, Peal helped lead the Chargers to the state championship game where they avenged their only loss of the season to the Charlotte Christian Knights. That marked back-to-back state titles for Peal and Providence Day.
Less than two months later, the Bulldogs commit watched as his future college team, Georgia, win their second-straight national title.
So how did a defensive back playing in Charlotte, North Carolina catch the attention of a Southeastern Conference and national superpower?
One major player in Peal’s recruiting saga was Georgia defensive backs coach Fran Brown. Brown is no stranger to North Carolina as he played for the Western Carolina Catamounts for 29 games and amassed 93 total tackles, five interceptions, and 16 passes defended. He also spent time in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals for two seasons.
Suffice it to say, Brown understands defensive backs, and he wanted Peal to join him at Georgia. However, it was during Brown’s previous coaching stop that he began to forge a relationship with Peal.
“He was at Rutgers, and he offered Chris at Rutgers,” Providence Day head coach Chad Grier said. “When he got to Georgia, he just never let go of Chris. They developed a really close relationship. He did a great job of representing Georgia very well, representing himself very well, and just did a great job of making a connection with Chris and his mom beyond just as a football player.”
BREAKING: Four-Star CB Chris Peal has Committed to Georgia!
The 6’1 190 CB from Charlotte, NC chose the Bulldogs over Michigan, South Carolina, and NC State.
— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) October 23, 2022
Making a good impression on Peal and his mother as people was a big part of the recruiting process. Grier has spent a lot of time getting to know them, and he knows that Peal has been through a lot in his life. During Peal’s commitment announcement, he spoke about his older brother, A.J. Peal lost his brother to gun violence, so Peal has dedicated himself to playing for his brother’s memory.
“I’ve been able to get really close to Chris and his mom and even his little niece,” Grier said. “Just amazing people. Chris is a person who’s a little different. He’s pretty stoic unless you know him really well, in which case, the kid’s really fun. But he’s really more of a stoic personality… Mentally, a very tough kid. He’s been through some adversity he’s had to deal with. It’s a strong family, and he’s just terrific.”
Adversity is a common topic in the world of sports. It gets used when plays or calls don’t go a certain way. It especially gets used when players suffer injuries. For Peal, the adversity didn’t happen on the football field, but Grier says that it informs how he conducts himself on the field.
“Adversity doesn’t so much build character as it reveals it,” Grier said. “He was revealed to be a really tough, mentally tough, kid. Physically tough, too. He’s just got some additional motivation and he plays hard. He plays for his family. He plays like someone who it matters to.”
In Grier’s mind, that’s the kind of player Georgia will be getting. A tough player in all senses of the word, but more than just tough.
“It’s mental toughness, his intelligence, his work ethic,” Grier said. “This kid’s never been in trouble. He’s not going to be. He’s not going to be distracted. He’s going to be a great locker room guy. He’s very coachable.”
That intelligence also played a role in Peal’s choice of schools per Grier.
“Chris basically decided he wanted to go to a school with an engineering program,” Grier said. “So he didn’t get swayed from what he knows his goals are. Basically wasn’t blinded by football opportunity, it had to be the whole package.”
That part of the process was just another sign that Peal is mature beyond his years. That shows up on the field, too. Just don’t mistake that stoic nature and not getting into it with opponents on the field as a lack of competitive fire and spirit.
“For a big-time corner, playmaker guy, he’s not somebody that chirps a lot, runs his mouth, and that no-fly zone stuff,” Grier said. “He just goes and makes plays and competes. Don’t mistake that for a kid that’s not fiercely competitive. I mean, he gets after it, and if you push his buttons, he’s going to make big things happen.”
Georgia will be getting a four-star defensive back with top-end speed (4.3 40-yard dash) with the character and intelligence that any coach would want on their roster.
“Yesterday, he challenged me to play chess,” Grier said.
A chess-playing corner with an interest in engineering who can outrun almost anyone and will outwork just about everyone. That’s a heck of a get for the Georgia program both on the field and off.