Before the season had even begun, Christian Pellage had his big moment in the spotlight.
Such instances are few and far between for an offensive lineman such as Nature Coast’s 6-foot-7, 295-pound senior left tackle.
Yet on Aug. 8 in front of a gathering of family, friends, coaches and school administrators, Pellage placed a University of South Carolina cap on his head and announced his commitment to the Gamecocks.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Pellage will make things official on Feb. 4, the date of National Signing Day.
Meanwhile, he has some other business to attend to, such as his final season with the Sharks.
It’s a new era at Nature Coast with an almost completely revamped coaching staff under first-year headman Justin Worden.
Worden said it was Pellage who initially reached out to him on social media, and that college coaches were already approaching him about his new player while he was still working at Orlando-Oak Ridge.
Though the rookie head coach cautioned that he wouldn’t want to put too much on any one player, he has admitted Pellage’s importance in helping to set a fresh foundation.
“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.”
The Sharks will certainly need Pellage to step up and protect the quarterback’s blindside while also opening holes for the running game.
College coaches certainly saw something they liked both in games, as well as camps and combines. He received 31 offers from Division I schools.
“Any time you have a kid with that many offers, you’ve got to put him at the point of attack and use him,” Worden said. “Maybe not to set up plays, but to trick people.”
Nature Coast showed off some significant offensive prowess in last Friday’s preseason victory over Citrus, a playoff team from a year ago. The Sharks amassed 415 yards of total offense and exhibited balance uncharacteristic of the team in recent years.
That kind of production could help Pellage escape the typical anonymity of the guys in the trenches, not that he’s difficult to find on the field.
Regardless, Pellage has seemingly secured his football future and has the spector of playing in the SEC to look forward to as he approaches graduation.
Having that decision in the rearview mirror has freed up his mind as he looks to go out with a bang at the prep level.
“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.”