BROOKSVILLE – A little over a week away from the start of his senior year, Nature Coast Technical left tackle Christian Pellage made a critical decision about his collegiate future.
The 6-foot-7, 295-pounder announced his intention to sign with the University of South Carolina at a ceremony in the Nature Coast gym on Friday afternoon.
Pellage, a four-star prospect, said he fielded 31 Division I offers, but the choice essentially came down to Alabama, Florida, Miami and the Gamecocks.
“Going through all these camps, working with all these coaches, it was a good experience,” Pellage said. “But I just got a feeling there that I haven’t really felt at any other school. Working with (offensive line) Coach (Shawn) Elliott, it just felt right.
“Miami and South Carolina, they were very, very close,” Pellage said. “It just really came down to the feeling I had when I was at South Carolina that I haven’t really felt before.”
He paid two visits to the Columbia campus, once during spring break when he took a tour and watched a practice, and for a camp in late July, when he got to know Elliott.
“He’s an amazing coach,” Pellage said. “He’s very down to Earth and he really knows what he’s doing. Going to a program like that, I’m very blessed.”
Though he committed last week, Pellage wanted to share the announcement with friends, family, coaches and administrators who gathered in the gym and applauded after he stood up and placed a Gamecocks hat on his head, then unfurled a blown-up copy of his commitment letter, signed by head coach Steve Spurrier.
Pellage has been an anchor on the line for the run-heavy Shark offense the past few seasons, and assuming he inks with the Gamecocks will become the program’s fourth Division I signee as it begins its 11th varsity campaign.
“Going to all these camps and combines, working with the different experienced coaches, just working out, eating right, that all got me to where I wanted to be, to be a true offensive tackle,” Pellage said. “Starting out, I was like 225, I was skinny, I didn’t know what I was doing. I started my sophomore year as an offensive tackle, but I feel like I’ve gone a long way.”
He’ll wait until National Signing Day on Feb. 4 to make things official, but for now he can settle in for his final season with the Sharks.
“It feels good just to get it out of the way so I can focus on my team,” Pellage said, “working our way to the playoffs, doing the best that we can.”
Nature Coast enters its first year under new head coach Justin Worden, who said he was first contacted about Pellage by South Carolina coaches while he was still working at Orlando-Oak Ridge shortly after being hired to take the Sharks’ helm.
“We tell them you play for a state championship every year, it doesn’t matter if you’re 0-10 last year or whatever, that’s the goal at the end of the year,” Worden said. “But there’s bigger goals than just football. Football is not life. To get his education paid for, it’s literally priceless.”
Worden credited Pellage’s parents for staying on top of the recruiting process while the coaching transition took place.
His communication with Pellage began before they even met in person, when Pellage found Worden on Twitter.
“You got a kid with that many offers and he’s a senior and that good a player, you definitely want to get him on board first,” Worden said, “because he’s going to have all the others kind of falling behind him, which is what happened.”