After the 2009 NFL Draft was said and done, director of player personnel **Eric DeCosta** said one of the key qualities they had been looking for was toughness.
The toughest player on the roster right now might now be Ravens sixth-round pick, **Cedric Peerman**. To prove it, look no further than his background on the farm.
Peerman grew up working on a tobacco farm in Gladys, Va., where he lived with his parents, brothers and sisters, but worked largely next to his grandfather. It was on the field where Peerman learned some of his first lessons in life.
"My grandfather would just pour into me different life lessons about hard work," Peerman reminisced. "[He taught me] how to carry myself, how to be a charitable person and how to be a giving person without expecting anything in return.
"I had good, strong people around me to raise me."
Peerman's hard work and discipline carried over to the football field and to the University of Virginia where he played running back. There were ups and downs in his college career that forced him to rely on those character traits more than ever.
Peerman was redshirted in the first part of his college career, sitting behind eventual Atlanta Falcons fullback Jason Snelling. His chance to start finally came in his junior year in 2007, and by midseason he had compiled 585 yards on the ground.
But in the sixth game of the season, Peerman suffered a setback in the form of a season-ending foot injury, which required months of rehab. Peerman was frustrated, but like he had many times before, he turned to God.
"I didn't know if I was going to be able to even play football again," he noted. "If I was ever going to be the same type of player that I was able to be before. [God] brought me through all that stuff, and I give him all the glory."
Peerman grew up a churchgoer, and his faith has played a huge role in his life. Throughout college, he was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). As he worked through his injury to get back on the football field, his calling to God grew stronger, eventually leading him to become a licensed minister.
"I didn't wake up one morning and say to myself 'I want to be a minister,'" he said. "It was more so of a journey across the course of my life."
Peerman earned his minister's license in the summer of 2008, but even before then he was actively speaking with youth and community groups and getting involved with churches. He now goes around giving sermons and spreading the gospel wherever he can.
"I play football to glorify God," Peerman said.
Relying on his faith, Peerman eventually returned to the football field for his senior season in 2008, finishing his college career with 3,349 all-purpose yards, as well as fifteen touchdowns. Seven of those scores came in his comeback season. His strong finish was enough to make NFL scouts and coaches take notice.
"He's got speed. He was one of the fastest backs at the combine," Ravens offensive coordinator **Cam Cameron** explained. "He was a captain of their team, and someone from Virginia said to us, 'He's one of the finest, if not the finest leader they've ever had at Virginia.' And I think that says a lot about a guy. Those kind of guys tend to do well [in the NFL]."
In addition to bringing leadership and high character to Baltimore, Peerman will fit into a running back corps that will include **Willis McGahee**, **Le’Ron McClain** and Ray Rice!(/team/roster/ray-rice/9d941a20-0c76-412d-85fd-165a029d59e6/ "Ray Rice").
"I would anticipate a large special teams role for him," Cameron said. "Just like we do all our young backs, we'll find out what he does best, and try to utilize him in that way."
Ravens general manager **Ozzie Newsome** saw that speed and determination, as well, which he now brings to the Ravens. Again, Peerman will have to work his way into a meaningful role on the team. But he has been doing that his whole life.
"With growing tobacco, you really have to wait," Peerman said, explaining the patience involved with growing the crop. He believes he'll bring that same patience to Baltimore.
"I'm going to bring great a work ethic. That'll be unquestioned," he said. "I think I'll definitely bring discipline in the way I go about things. These are the things that have been ingrained in me, since I was old enough to walk."