Catch Up with the Former Wide Receiver from ClemsonJim Gehman
The Jets decided to go with what was working in 2016.
Having larger-than-average veteran wide receivers on their roster in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, they added to their depth chart by choosing 6-2, 209-pound Charone Peake out of Clemson in the seventh round of that year's NFL Draft.
"I was getting calls from a few teams during the Draft. I got a call from Denver in the fourth round saying they were going to pick me up. And I got a call from the Dolphins. They wanted me to sign as a free agent," said Peake, who had 50 receptions for 716 yards and five touchdowns during his senior season.
"And then I got a call from the Jets and it was one of those moments that was life changing. It was a dream come true. I had talked with the Jets during the process of going through the Draft and the Combine and all that, the individual workout. But the relationship with Coach Karl Dorrell, the receivers coach, there was just something about it. It was a very proud moment."
The only wide receiver drafted by New York that year, Peake adjusted well to life in the NFL thanks in part to having some of his new teammates show him the ropes.
"When I first got there, Brandon Marshall was the one, for sure," Peake said. "I grew up analyzing him. And then be able to be in the (receivers) room with him, and learn from him as a football player, as a man, and as a husband, it was good to be around him every day.
"And also, Quincy Enunwa, I think he was two years in when I got there, but he was very mature, I felt like it was good to be able to shadow him, see what he did and see how he took care of his body and trained. So yeah, those are probably the two guys I went around with the most and learned from."
Four games into his rookie season, against Seattle at MetLife Stadium, Peake caught his first career pass and also scored his first touchdown. One, however, had nothing to do with the other.
With the Jets trailing 27-10 and 2:24 left in the fourth quarter, New York's quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was in the pocket attempting to throw a pass, when his arm was hit by Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril and caused a fumble.
Most of the players on the field and the 78,160 fans in the seats thought it was an incomplete pass. Except for Peake, who snagged the ball off the turf and motored 42 yards to the end zone.
"When I initially picked it up, I was just kidding around," Peake said. "A guy tried to touch me and I did a little move and then realized I didn't hear a whistle or anything. So I just took off running. I was the only guy that was still playing, pretty much.
"I looked back and nobody was chasing me. It's funny, that was my touchdown, but I wish the game would have been closer. It would have meant a little more. But it was still a fun experience."
The following year was far less fun for Peake, having suffered a season-ending ankle injury against Miami in the third game of the season. But being unable to play didn't mean he was unable to continue learning about playing at the NFL level.
"You get to see the game from a different view from the sideline. You see how things work," Peake said. "Instead of me being a part of the game plan, I'm watching coaches put the game plan together and see how they prepare for the game. And also how the training staff prepares pre-game and post-game for players. So just getting a different view of it.
"Taking advantage of the time when you're out, you want to still learn and grow so that when you are able to play, that you can make an impact. You want to come back better when you come back from an injury. You want to come back better mentally and physically."
After going through strenuous rehab, being able to come back for the 2018 season is one of Peake's fondest memories from his three years with the Jets.
"My first game back in the preseason (against Tennessee), me and (Josh) McCown connected for a (5-yard) touchdown in a pretty close game. That was probably one of my best moments, to be able to come back from two ankle surgeries and be able to come out and perform," Peake said. "And I made the team that year, as well. So that was one of the moments that I'm proud of."
Having played for a short time last season for the CFL's Ottawa Redblacks, Peake and his wife, Erin, and their son, Cire, are now making their home in Roebuck, South Carolina, where he is the wide receivers coach at his alma mater, Dorman High School.
"Initially, when I retired, I wanted to get away from football, I guess. I was working with Rocket Mortgage for about three months and as I went through it, I realized it was something I didn't want to do for the rest of my life," Peake said.
"I was kind of missing football, and then this job came open at my old high school. I got a call from the head coach, Coach (Dustin) Curtis, and he asked if I wanted to come on board and coach at Dorman. And without question, I said, 'Yes.' Just to be back around the game, it worked out perfectly."
What does Peake enjoy most about coaching young men who are where he was not so long ago?
"They've got so much potential, and I'm getting them at a very young age," he said. "I decided it was a chance for me to really make an impact on them on the football field, but also have an influence on their life because they haven't experienced life as it is yet.
"They haven't started college yet. They haven't had to pay bills or anything like that. So for me, it's kind of being in a position to give them perspective. And being someone that's been where they want to go, I can give them guidance on how to get there. So that's the best thing about the job."