Who is Angelo Pease?
by Mike Conklin
May 13, 2013
It's a name that wasn't heard on draft day, and it seems unlikely it will be heard in September once the 53-man roster is announced. But for now, the name that kept popping up during the Packers rookie camp was an improbable one: Angelo Pease.
The Packers brought in two high profile rookies in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin to battle it out at that position, yet it was Pease who garnered unsolicited praise from Mike McCarthy on more than one occasion. During the first press conference of the camp back on Friday, McCarthy was asked a general question about whether it was possible for players to leave strong impressions based on the rookie evaluation camp. McCarthy pointed out Pease right away, and even said that on one particular impressive play he thought he was watching Eddie Lacy at first.
McCarthy is often less than effusive with his praise in these settings and there is only so much stock you can place in a rookie camp. But when McCarthy stood up at the podium again at the conclusion of the weekend, the same name popped up once more.
"I'm going to do it to him again...I thought Pease of Kansas State had a very good weekend," McCarthy said almost reluctantly. "I think he's a good young back."
McCarthy went on to say all the usual things...that there's only so much evaluation that can be done in helmets and shorts, and that the real football doesn't begin until training camp. But for the second time over the course of the weekend he brought up the name of Angelo Pease, unprompted.
Maybe it's just filler for a press conference that in all reality doesn't mean that much at this point of the offseason. Maybe it's a subtle shot across the bow for Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, sending a message that it's all about production and nothing will be handed to them. Maybe Pease was the beneficiary of a couple of fluke plays and he'll never be heard from again. But for now, McCarthy's attention to Pease warrants a second look at this unheralded player from Kansas State.
Angelo Pease was an All-State high school quarterback for the Cairo (Ga.) Syrupmakers. (Yes, the Syrupmakers.) He led his team to a 27-2 record over his two years as a signal caller, finishing as state runner-up during his junior year and then winning the Class AAA championship during his senior year. In that title game, the score was tied at the beginning of the fourth quarter before Pease imposed his will on the defense. He accounted for two touchdowns in that final quarter and his team won the game going away. His strong senior season, which included a 19-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio to go along with another 882 yards rushing, resulted in Pease being named first team All-State. He was even selected as the Offensive Player of the Year for his class by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
He was courted by a handful of major college programs, but ultimately ended up signing with Kansas State. This was when he faced the biggest detour on what looked like it was going to be a highway to success.
Pease had to make a two-year stop at a community college, because he ended up not having the grades to qualify at Kansas State right out of high school. Even though he signed with the Wildcats in 2009, he didn't set foot on the field in Manhattan (Ks.) until 2011. It was a journey that tried his resolve, and he had to learn patience during those two years.
"It was a long time coming," said Pease upon finally arriving at Kansas State. "I knew I could come out of high school, then coming to Juco my Juco didn't go as I thought it would go.
"I was about to graduate from junior college and there were certain things I didn't do that I should have done that held me back a couple more months."
Through it all, Kansas State stuck with Pease even though they didn't have to. They saw the talent he offered, and saw the diverse skill set he displayed when he moved around and played different positions at Hutchinson Community College.
"I guess as I got to junior college and they saw how versatile I was and could do more than quarterback they switched me to athlete," Pease said. That was an apt description as well, as he played quarterback, running back, ran the Wildcat, returned kicks, and even played a little wide receiver during his time there.
"They thought they could use me in a lot of different ways," said Pease. "They wanted me as an athlete basically, and then they would figure out how I could help them the best. I was all for that and I still am."
While Pease was toiling away at community college, other players that signed with Kansas State the same time he did blossomed into key players for the Wildcats. One of those players, running back John Hubert, got the lion's share of the work even after Pease arrived on campus. Add to that the fact that the Wildcats used their quarterback Collin Klein as a primary rusher as well (leading the team in carries during each of Pease's two years there), and that effectively meant that there wouldn't be a lot of chances for Pease to touch the ball.
Pease had fewer than 100 total carries during his two years at Kansas State, but he got better as he went along and earned the trust of his coaches more and more. During his senior season he averaged 5.6 yards on his 60 carries, and seemed to gather steam with the more chances he got. He ran for 47 yards on only seven carries against Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, which was his final college game. One of his coaches said after the game that he wished they could have kept Pease around for another year.
"I think people saw tonight what Angelo is really capable of, that talent that I’ve seen all along,” said Kansas State's co-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel. “I think he really has a bright future. I hope he opened some eyes tonight. I wish now we could’ve redshirted him. We needed him, though, and I'm sad that wasn't an option but I think you just look at him and can see how he's built and how someone might be able to use him at the next level."
For his part, Pease knew that even though he may not have played the featured role he would have liked, he always needed to be ready when called upon.
"Rotating is tough, sure, but you have to stick with the game plan," Pease said. "It's just like anything else as an athlete, where you want to stay on the field if you feel like you're hot. When my turn comes up, I'm always willing to go in and give and give my best for my team. They know I always give it my all."
Now in Green Bay, Pease may find himself in an eerily familiar situation. The Packers have invested heavily in Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, spent a third round pick three years ago on Alex Green, and got a lot of production from DuJuan Harris down the stretch late last season. Pease is at the bottom of the depth chart looking up once again. Maybe his primary role on the team right now is to serve as Mike McCarthy's motivational tool for Lacy and Franklin to step it up. Whether that's true or not, Pease knows the score.
"I have two dudes ahead of me, and I've always had to work and make a name for myself, so I think it's very important for me to make a first impression to the coaches," Pease told ESPN Wisconsin after practice Saturday. "All my life I’ve been in competition. I've never backed off any competition.
"Just because I heard (what McCarthy said) now, that doesn't mean I've got some type of role over somebody. I'm still going to bust my tail every play just like he didn't say that."
Pease may be the longest of long shots to make the roster this fall, but if there's one thing the Packers have shown it is that they will give anybody a chance. Jarrett Boykin wasn't even signed by the Packers as an undrafted free agent last year, and he only made the expanded offseason roster as a result of a strong tryout after he had already been cut by the Jaguars. He could have been considered the longest of long shots at that time but he went on to make the team, so it isn't unheard of. Pease seems to know what he has to do.
"As soon as I get an opportunity to show what I can do, I try my best to do it," Pease said. "Whenever I get my opportunity, I try to shine."
He seemed to get off to a pretty good start this weekend.
Photo Credit: Associated Press