For a high school hero, a return to the place he still can call home

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In fall 2011, Andrus Peat dressed in Corona del Sol’s orange, yellow and black every Friday night as a member of the Aztec football team. Four years later, he returned to the Valley from his new NFL home to play football, this time sporting black, white and gold—the colors of the New Orleans Saints.

Peat’s football career came full circle at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday when the East Valley native made his debut in New Orleans’ 31-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Although local fans had hoped for more, Peat’s role in Sunday’s game didn’t amount to much. He played a few snaps as an additional offensive lineman in short-yardage situations. But, best of all, he played in front of his friends and family just minutes away from his high school alma mater.

Corona del Sol Assistant Principal of Athletics Dan Nero said the school is proud to call Peat an alum. He said Peat is someone kids can look up to, not only as a player but also as a gentleman.

“It sure does give a boost to our football program to have an NFL player drafted in the first round,” Nero said. “It’s always nice to have someone like that be recognized as an Aztec alum.”

Nero said Peat’s talents were well recognized during his time at Corona.

“He was very quiet, polite and soft spoken, but when he got his ‘motor’ running—watch out,” Nero said. “By sheer size, yes, he had college and pro football as a possible future.”

Arizona State University Student Nick Marciano, who graduated from Corona a year after Peat, remembered Peat as one of the nice guys.

“He was a big, gentle giant who wouldn’t say much,” Marciano said. “He was very humble.”

Marciano added that Peat’s performance on the field kept the crowds coming to watch the Aztecs every Friday night.

“We didn’t have the best high school football team, so he helped keep a lot of people from getting disinterested,” Marciano said. “It was insane to see how big Andrus was compared to other high school players.”

Peat, who measures 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighs in at 316, was rated as a five-star college prospect by Rivals, a sports site dedicated to covering college recruits, during his time at Corona. He was named a USA Today All-American and received the Frank Kush Lineman of the Year award.

After graduating from Corona is 2012, Peat went on to have a successful college career with the Stanford Cardinal. He played in 13 games his freshman season, during which he averaged 20 snaps a game at left tackle.

In 2013, Peat played in every game and was chosen to the All-Pac-12 second team. He was also voted the team’s Most Outstanding Sophomore.

Last year, Peat was voted second-team All-American by the Associated Press in what would be his final season with the Cardinal. He opted out of his senior year to enter the NFL draft. At the time, Peat said it was a long and hard decision, but he was ready to take the next big step in his life.

Peat was selected by the Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft as the 13th overall pick. Nero said it’s extremely rare to see someone be as successful as Peat.

“The stats I have heard are remarkable—less than five percent of high school players make it to Division I college football, let alone a great institution like Stanford,” Nero said.

For Peat, football runs in his veins. His father, Todd, played six seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals and the Los Angeles Raiders in a career that spanned 1987 to 1993. His brother, Todd Jr., played football for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers as well as high school football at Corona.

Nero said the Peat family has helped build a strong foundation for Andrus’ young career.

“A great family supporting him, good fortune not having any major injuries, and a ton of hard work and dedication has had awesome results,” Nero said.

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