Gerard Stringer has always had a strong role model when it comes to football. And by taking advantage of that gridiron connection, Stringer played himself into an opportunity at the major college level.
The outside linebacker from Suffolk, VA, took an unofficial visit to East Carolina last weekend with his mother and came away with a scholarship offer from the Pirates. Less than 24 hours after returning home from the visit, Stringer made a verbal commitment and became the fifth prospect to join ECU’s football recruiting Class of 2018.
Stringer chose the Pirates after also considering opportunities at Army, Navy and Ohio University.
“As far as all my goals, East Carolina checked all the boxes,” Stringer said. “I loved the personality of the coaches, how they really care about me, and believe in me and what I can do in football. Academic-wise, it’s a great school, too. Those were all the things I was looking for in a school.”
The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder had a clear vision of what he wanted from a potential school after being exposed to the world of big-time college football through his uncle.
Stringer is the nephew of former Georgia high school sprint champion and ex-Florida State wide receiver Germaine Stringer. Germaine Stringer was an all-state performer at wingback for DeKalb High School in 1994 before being recruited by legendary coach Bobby Bowden to play for the Seminoles.
A 5-11, 185-pounder with 10.18-second speed in the 100-meter dash, Germaine Stringer lettered four seasons (1996-99) as an FSU receiver and kickoff return man. As a senior in ’99, Stringer was part of the Seminoles unbeaten national championship squad that was ranked No. 1 in the country from start to finish. He caught 12 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns that season as the backup to Heisman Trophy candidate Peter Warrick.
Still regarded as one of the fastest players to suit up for Florida State, Germaine Stringer spent a brief time with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs before his playing career ended.
Gerard Stringer often spent time in the summers at his uncle’s home in Georgia where football dominated the conversations and activities.
“I’d work out with him and he’s put me through drills,” Gerard Stringer said. “I think that taught me about the work ethic you have to have to be a good football player. He’s had a big influence on me and my football career.”
The younger Stringer established himself as a talented two-way performer, playing everywhere from quarterback to tight end to defensive end from middle school up to the ninth grade. But as a sophomore he earned a starting job on defense for coach David Coccoli’s Nansemond River High School varsity.
“He was close to being called up [to varsity] his freshman year,” Coccoli said. “But we decided to wait, and he wound up starting every game as a sophomore.”
Stringer really came into his own as a junior when he made 64 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and three sacks for a Nansemond River team that finished 6-5.
One of the highlights of the 2016 season for Stringer occurred in a late September conference matchup against Indian River. Nansemond was clinging to a 14-7 lead late in the third period when Stringer came through with two big defensive plays to turn the tide.
“He had an interception and forced a fumble on like two consecutive series to turn around the game,” said Coccoli, whose team went on to a 30-7 victory.
Recruiting proved to be a slow process for Stringer, whose contact with East Carolina only began about “two months ago.”
“I had been to one of their games against Virginia Tech,” Stringer said. “I knew a lot about their program already. So when they invited me down for a visit I had a feeling they were going to offer me. They brought me and my mom into Coach [Scottie] Montgomery’s office to talk to us. That’s when they extended the offer. I wanted to go home to discuss it with my dad because he couldn’t make the trip. But after telling him how much I liked [ECU], and how much my mom liked it, I decided to commit.”
According to Stringer, the Pirates are getting a defender who is smart and athletic.
“I feel like I see things and analyze them quickly to make plays,” he said. “I do a good job containing on the outside and in [pass] coverage.”