Monday, June 27, 2016

Cheatham Chooses Virginia

Four years ago, after looking at all of his options following his senior football season at Hanover High School, a gentleman by the name of Sam Rogers opted to walk on at Virginia Tech, feeling his best opportunity was in Blacksburg. We all know how that decision has turned out.

Now, Clayton Cheatham, a player inevitably compared to Rogers during his time in a Hawks uniform due to the similar styles and athletic abilities, has made a somewhat similar decision. The rising senior didn't want to wait until after football season, turning down scholarship offers from other institutions to follow where he feels is the best fit for him, and his dream school all along.

Cheatham announced via Twitter late Sunday evening that he will head to Charlottesville to join the University of Virginia in the fall of 2017, turning down offers from other in-state institutions ranging from the University of Richmond and Old Dominion to James Madison University, where his older brother Deane converted from tailback to tight end and turned in a stellar career for the Dukes with 94 career receptions for 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns.

"Everything was right at UVA, academically and football-wise," Cheatham told RVA Sports Network late Sunday night. "It is the right fit for me, it gives me an opportunity to do what I want academically for the future, plus, it was the school I've wanted to be at for a long time."

The final reason is an intangible that is very difficult to overcome if you are a university trying to convince a student-athlete to join your program over the one whose poster has possibly been on their bedroom wall for years. Some succeed, but not in this case. And for Cheatham, it was simply a matter of knowing where he wanted to spend his future, deciding to end all speculation before his senior season with the Hawks kicks off at home September 2nd against rival Dinwiddie.

"I just knew I wanted to be at UVA," Cheatham explained. "I had made up my mind, so I didn't want to drag it out."

Cheatham, who spent more time on the sidelines than on the field in 2015 due to an ankle injury in Hanover's opening game win at Dinwiddie, still accounted for fourteen touchdowns in 2015 and just over 1,000 yards of total offense. Though there are departures via graduation along the powerful Hanover offensive line, the Hawks have spent a decade replenishing that position. They will be counted on to help open holes for Cheatham in his final season as a Hawk.

The new coaching staff at Scott Stadium, led by former Brigham Young head coach Bronco Mendenhall played a "very influential" role in Cheatham's decision to say yes to the Cavaliers.

"They are a very family-oriented staff, but they preach discipline and doing the little things right, which we do a lot of at Hanover also," Cheatham said, also commenting on not being frightened by his future walk-on status.

"No, I'm confident in my ability and believe I can get up there and make some noise," Cheatham noted.

For Mendenhall, and patient Cavalier fans, they look forward to watching Cheatham make noise for them soon. But first, the rising senior has unfinished business, and would love nothing more than to finally take Hanover to its first state championship game. The Hawks are 0-4 all-time in state semifinal games in their brief, but storied fourteen year history. #10 hopes to make Season #15 one for the ages.

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