Sitting outside a new school where he’ll spend just one semester, J.P. Peduzzi appropriately wrote the first words in a new chapter of his football career on Wednesday when he signed his National Letter of Intent to attend Lenoir-Rhyne University next season and suit up for the Bears.
Flanked by his family, including head coach Ron Peduzzi, the Hilton Head Christian Academy star made his intentions official in an outdoor ceremony at the school’s new Bluffton campus, with students gathered to witness the moment — and snag a cookie.
The younger Peduzzi was a multi-dimensional star for his father’s undefeated state championship team this season, splitting time at quarterback with junior Jace Blackshear and making an impact at receiver, on defense, and on special teams.
Peduzzi finished his senior season with an impressive bundle of stats — he passed for 1,043 yards and 12 touchdowns, caught 32 passes for 666 yards and 10 TDs, and added 488 yards and six TDs on the ground.
He was a standout on defense when the Eagles needed him down the stretch, including the SCISA 2A title game, in which his 55-yard pick-six was the dagger in HHCA’s 42-14 rout of Carolina Academy. And he was 21-of-25 on PATs and booted a pair of field goals before turning over the placekicking duties to Logan Harsta.
For his multi-dimensional efforts, Peduzzi was the first player to earn the Iron Lowco Award given to the area’s top three-way contributor as part of the LowcoSports All-Lowco Football Team presented by Local Pie.
The offers were late to come for Peduzzi, whose versatility might have worked against him in the recruiting process, but he found a home at Lenoir-Rhyne, which is located in Hickory, North Carolina, and competes in the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Conference.
“They loved me, I loved them,” Peduzzi said. “It was just something that worked. They already have something great over there, and it’s something that I’m excited to be a part of.”
Indeed, the Bears went undefeated in SAC play in 2019 and finished 13-1, falling to West Florida in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals. Their 2020 season was postponed to this spring, and Lenoir-Rhyne opens March 14 against Newberry.
The Peduzzi family will be watching intently, imagining what will come next fall.
“I just want to take that work ethic and carry on and keep working as hard as I can,” Peduzzi said.