TEMPE, Ariz. – Five-star offensive tackle Andrus Peat doesn’t meet many players on the field who can stand up to him. In his back yard, under the watchful eye of his father, it’s a different matter.
Andrus Peete is considering a visit to Auburn for Big Cat Weekend/Phillip Marshall photo
Andrus is one of seven children. His father, Todd, played seven seasons as an offensive guard with the Cardinals and the Raiders in the NFL. His older brother, Todd Jr., is a defensive lineman who will be a freshman at Nebraska next season. His younger brother, Cassius, is a ninth-grader.
In the back yard, Andrus and Todd Jr. go at it. No holds barred.
“Going against somebody as good as he is has to help you,” Andrus said in an exclusive interview with AuburnUndercover.com.
Andrus, from Corona Del Sol High School, is one of the nation’s top prospects. He stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 305 pounds. He has the long arms and the quick feet coaches covet and is rated a 5-star by 247Sports.com. A steady stream of college coaches have been to his school. Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett was there Monday.
Thomas Joseph, who took over as head coach at the school in January, has been a busy go-between.
“I stopped counting at 48 offers,” Joseph said.
Todd Peat Sr. didn’t want his sons to burn out football. They were not allowed to play until they reached high school. It only took one season on the varsity for Andrus to start attracting attention. Offers started to trickle in. After last season, the trickle became a flood.
“It’s been real busy lately, coaches coming through the school,” Andrus said. “I’m getting a whole bunch of mail and stuff. It’s good to have all these options, but it gets hectic after a while. I had a lot offers after my sophomore year. After my junior year, I started getting offers from big-name schools. Once I started getting those, I could tell it was going to get crazy.”
Like his brother before him, Andrus welcomes his father’s advice and counsel about playing football, academics and recruiting.
"They both are doing extremely well," Todd Peat Sr. said. "Every parent thinks their kid is the greatest. But what I can tell you is that we work hard. We're preparing for the next football season. Football and their academics are the two most important things, and academics are first."
One of the schools that took an interest in Andrus was Auburn. He watched the Tigers play in the BCS National Championship Game in nearby Glendale. He noticed when offensive tackle Christian Westerman of nearby Hamilton High School abandoned a commitment to Texas and signed with Auburn. His father knows offensive line coach Jeff Grimes from when both were with the Raiders.
Andrus plans to go to Auburn for a visit, perhaps for Big Cat Weekend later this month.
“Of course, they are coming off the national championship,” Andrus said. “They are the best of the best right now. They are having good recruiting classes. You know they are going to be back on top pretty soon.
“Also, I have gotten a good relationship with Coach Grimes. He knows my dad from when he was with the Raiders. That’s a good relationship right there.”
Joseph is coaching Andrus on the field for the first time. He coached against him last season as the head coach at Mountain View High School in Mesa. He’s seen enough.
“The potential is phenomenal,” Joseph said, “maybe more than any kid I’ve ever coached. He’s going to be big-, big-, big-, big-time. If he doesn’t start as a freshman, he will as a sophomore. That’s if he keeps working hard. He has to hit the weights. Nobody ever made him lift weights. Nobody made him jump rope. That’s not his fault. He’s been a big boy and they’ve kind of just let him go.”
Andrus already is a commanding presence on and off the field. Joseph says he’ll be bigger, stronger and better by the time he gets to college.
“Andrus is like a baby cub right now,” Joseph said. “There is so much to him. He has so much potential and growth. He’s going to grow one or two more inches. You look at him. He’s never gotten out a razor. I’ve been doing this a long time. If you come in with a full beard, you are probably done growing. He’s not done growing. He’s going to be 6-8, 6-9 and 320 or so.”
Todd Peak doesn’t believe in interfering with his son’s coaches. He’s a supporter, not a second-guesser. But at home, he teaches lessons about competing and doing things in the right way.
“It helps me tremendously, especially because I’m an offensive lineman,” Andrus said. “He helps me with technique and technical stuff. I feel like I have an edge on every other lineman. He was a real smart football player.”
He gets no argument from Joseph, who says the patriarch of the Peat family has earned his respect and admiration.
“He’s a unique man,” Joseph said. “He is very reserved, polite, respectful. I watched him at a junior high basketball game. He never said a word, never criticized the refs, never yelled at a kid. I saw him clap a few times. That’s it. You can tell he was an athlete and not one of those wannabe parents going after the refs or the umpires.”
Corona Del Sol is going through spring practice. When that’s over, Andrus said, he plans to narrow his list to 8-10 schools. And nobody will be happier than his coach.
“I said ‘Hey, I can’t do this,’” Joseph said with a laugh. “We have people in and out day after day after day. I said ‘Get it down to 15-20 schools I can work with.’ My role is to let him know who really wants him and who is just recruiting him because he has a big name.”
Andrus said he doesn’t know when he’ll make a decision.
“Academics is really important,” said Andrus, an outstanding student. “Also, I think I could come in and play early. That’s something I want to do, to be able to play my freshman or sophomore year. I just kind of listen to everything they have to say. My dad and I are doing research on all the schools and the coaches to get a better feel for them.”
When the feeling is right, Andrus will make a decision. Until then, he will keep on working, keep on talking to the coaches who come to sell their programs.
“I really didn’t expect this,” Andrus said. “All these big schools and stuff coming to the school and recruiting me, it’s like a dream.”