JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Bartram Trail High graduate and University of Pittsburgh quarterback prospect Nate Peterman doesn't know where he will be employed in May.
The 22-year-old is entering the roulette wheel that is the NFL Draft.
There are projections and empty promises all around, but Peterman won't realize his NFL dream until he receives a phone call on draft weekend. He is looking to become the first player ever to be drafted into the NFL from Bartram Trail High School.
“I think whatever my opportunity is, I’m going to enjoy it and be thankful for it," Peterson said in a conversation with First Coast News on Wednesday.
The quarterback knows there are few starting quarterback jobs available in the NFL. He is aware of his options and knows that he may be a backup for the foreseeable future.
"A chance to be in the NFL is quite the opportunity, so I’m just thankful for whatever comes," Peterman said.
"And I think I learned that in college, that you never know when that opportunity comes. But when it does, you better be ready. So if it’s Day One, I’ll be ready. If it’s a couple of years down the road, I’ll be ready.”
Peterman has spent the offseason jumping around from location to location in an effort to improve himself and display his talent.
From the Reese's Senior Bowl to the NFL Combine to team visits and everywhere in between, Peterman has been all over the place.
“It’s been pretty wild," Peterman said.
"After the Senior Bowl, I went back to right back to Boca Raton where I was training. I was going to get in Combine shape I guess. Running the forty and all of those things. Making the throws they want you to make. Training with that and after the Combine I went back training for a week. Then was up to Pittsburgh for my pro day for about a month, had workouts and visits after that. Just kind of working out with my teammates at Pittsburgh. Then just came home before Easter here, so still trying to stay in shape, got about two weeks until the draft. Just trying to stay ready.”
The aforementioned combine was a special experience for Peterman. He spent time with former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell, who gave him advice in Indianapolis.
“Brunell was just [telling me] to enjoy things," Peterman said.
"He told me the story of when he was at the Combine, he was basically like the last invite. He did every single thing – that’s when guys weren’t throwing – and he did every single thing and ran. I think he ran a really good [forty-yard dash], so it was kind of cool to reminisce a little bit about that and just enjoy it and light it up.”
Peterman grew up as a Jaguars fan. It was a special moment for him when he was invited to a private workout in Jacksonville earlier this week.
“It’s pretty cool, especially to see Tom Coughlin or even Greg Jones, who I know is in their scouting department now," Peterman said. "And Coach McCardell! I told Greg Jones I have his rookie card still – so it’s crazy to see that guys get to interact with them now.”
Peterman has seen his stock rise among those who cover the draft. ESPN's Jon Gruden went as far as to say he was the most "pro ready" quarterback in the class.
His college career didn't start off well, but following a transfer from Tennessee to Pittsburgh, he was able to turn himself into a strong NFL prospect.
“I think that was always the goal," Peterman said.
"I wouldn’t have transferred or I wouldn’t have even played college football if I didn’t want to be here. Definitely very thankful for it and I know there’s a lot more work to do and I’ve definitely got to keep grinding more and more.”
He was thrust into the national spotlight back in November, when he helped lead Pittsburgh past the eventual national champions, Clemson, 43-42. It was Clemson's only loss of the season.
In the game, Peterman completed 22-of-37 passes for 308 passing yards and five touchdowns.
“I would definitely say obviously the Clemson game was the biggest moment and toughest opponent for sure," Peterman said.
"Just the defense that they played. Luckily, we had a great game plan, we practiced extremely hard that week and really got ready for them and everything they could throw at us. Once it came to game time, all of our guys weren’t scared, they were ready to play and throw our best punch at them and luckily that was enough to knock them off. It was a special moment and one I’ll remember.”
Peterman also remembers his time at Bartram Trail fondly. He still has plenty of school pride and hopes to represent his alma mater in the NFL.
“Extremely important, Bartram has been a huge part of who I am," Peterman said.
"Coach [Darrell] Sutherland, Coach [Marc] Nadeau, all the coaches there and people there, even administrators, just founded really who I am as a person. To represent a school like that, with so many great players that have come through there, it’s really amazing how many great football alumni you have. To be able to represent them in the NFL and hopefully be the first person drafted from Bartram would be an awesome opportunity.”
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.