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Oregon coach visits Pine Tree, observes Chumley

By Hayden Henry
April 30, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.


It didn't take long for Pine Tree athletic director/head football coach Derek Fitzhenry to take notice Caleb Chumley's potential.

And as the Pirates gear up for the 2013 football season, it's not taking long for colleges across the nation to take note to the 2014 6-5, 220-pound athlete.

The latest in the constantly-growing list of schools is Oregon, which observed Chumley in person Tuesday at a Pine Tree practice.

"When he was a sophomore, I knew we've got to really explore this guy, when you watch him run around out there and throw the football, he's got a rope, just an incredibly strong arm," Fitzhenry said. "And he can run too."

Oregon tight end coach Tom Osborn stopped by the Pirates' practice on Tuesday – making a trip to Texas just to see Chumley – something that Fitzhenry said the Ducks rarely do.

"He came to Texas just to see him and he said we don't go see many guys, we're selective about who we go see and we're going to see guys that will help us win a national championship, not just going to sign guys," Fitzhenry said.

While his size stands out on the field, Oregon was impressed with Chumley's speed and the way he moves around the football field.

"The fact that he's such a big, tall and has a lot of range, they liked the fact that he can run," Fitzhenry said. "And they like the way he throws."

Chumley took over at quarterback at the end of the 2012 season and racked up over 1,100 yards of total offense in a 2 1/2 game span. Entering 2013 as the Pirates transition to the spread offense from the run-heavy flexbone offense, Chumley will see time at the quarterback role as well as a receiver with Dalvin Mann at quarterback, two spots that Oregeon can see Chumley playing.

"They want to see what kind of player he develops into and what position he would be best at in college," Fitzhenry said. "They do believe he is a Division I athlete and they're looking to see what he's going to play, whether it is quarterback or receiver."

Chumley took over at halftime this past season in a district contest against Marshall and finished 7-for-12 in the air for 146 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He followed that up with a 548-yard night with seven total touchdowns against Sulphur Springs.

"He's got so many tools at quarterback," Fitzhenry said. "For him to be where he is right now, when he's only played quarterback half a year, it just shows what kind of potential he has back there. And now, we're starting to do with the mental aspect of being a quarterback and he is really learning fast andpicks it up easily, he's doing a great job with his reads and check-downs."

While Chumley, Manns and returning wide receiver Mason Hays will be crucial roles to the spread offense, Fitzhenry and the Pirates are focused on the big men up front as well.

Returning to the offensive line will be Will Mitchell and Andrew Lee as well as newcomer Sam Stoker, a 6-4, 325-pound, who played on the Pine Tree junior varsity last season in his first year of football.

"We started working on the spread last year during two-a-days along with the flexbone, but the biggest, number-one thing is your offensive line and going from the heavy hand to a balanced stance and zone and pass blocking," Fitzhenry said. "Everybody just wants to throw the football and not everyone understands that protection is a huge part of that and now we've got a few more selections, some more depth where we can practice both sides of the ball but the biggest key is our offensive line and getting their technique down."

Tuesday's visit from Oregon is the latest in a long list of schools with Chumley on their radar including: Baylor, Memphis, Missouri, Oregon State, TCU, Jackson State, Lamar, ULM, North Texas and Texas State.

But Fitzhenry said that the current junior is handling the pressure well, something that he credits to the work Chumley is putting in on the field.

"Work takes the pressure off, when you got out there and work and put the time in, it gives you confidence and he's done that," Fitzhenry said. "He's working on all the aspects of being a quarterback, both physical and mental.

"You've got to have the mentality of 'this is what I do' and let the pressure stay out there, and he's done that."

Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/hayden_h">@hayden_h</a>

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