Chambers Finds Inspiration and Focus

As BYU wide receiver O'Neill Chambers gets acclimated to college life and his new home under the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains, he already has set his sights on what he wants to accomplish while in Provo. The confident yet modest Florida native has his eyes focused squarely on the future.

Coming all the way across the country from Florida to Utah wasn't a difficult decision for O'Neill Chambers.

"No, I'm not really homesick and right now I'm just taking it all in," said Chambers. "I'm just looking forward and trying to better myself, which is why I'm here."

The freshman isn't just trying to better himself on the field, but is trying to improve himself off the field as well. When it came time to choose a college, Chambers sought an environment more conducive to clean living than the wild party atmosphere found at some of the schools that were recruiting him.

"I like to be more quiet and keep to myself," said Chambers. "I'm just trying to focus on football and be in an environment that helps keep me out of trouble. BYU is more just straightforward in how they do things out here, whereas with other schools it's more congested with party, party, party and stuff like that. Over here at BYU, it's more quiet and focused, and that's all I want to do is focus on school and football."

Being academically focused and taking advantage of everything BYU has to offer is Chambers' goal. When the expectations of classes begin to mesh with the rigors of football, Chambers knows the difficulties of college will increase.

"I'm just going to try and ask for as much help as I can get," Chambers said. "I'm going to go to all of my professors after class and just try and talk to them. I'm going to communicate as best I can with them and help them to understand when I'm busy and when I'm not. I'm going to try and work as hard as I can, and try to get my professors to work with me as best as I can."

Chambers already has an idea of what he wants to do with his education.

"I want to be a mathematician or an engineer because I'm really good with numbers," said Chambers. "I just want to get into the field of mathematics and possibly be a fifth grade math teacher. Miss Marufy, my math teacher in high school back home, opened my eyes to math. She always helped me to make sure that I always worked hard and studied. She opened my eyes more to mathematics and that's what I want to do."

Chambers has spoken to his former math teacher and let her know that he was inspired by her to pursue a degree in mathematics.

"I told her what I was planning on doing," said Chambers with a smile. "She told me to work hard, keep on top of things and to keep studying formulas and I'll get it down pat. In the past I didn't realize how important studying was because it came easy to me, but she helped me to understand that studying helps you and makes you better at what you're trying to accomplish. She also said for me to call her if I ever need help."

After a very successful fall camp, it's readily apparent that Chambers doesn't need to apply the Pythagorean Theorem to the football field in order to calculate the best route options. Rather, his personal abilities have moved him up to compete for repetitions among the first- and second-team units. On top of his offensive performance, Chambers has also been receiving reps as a punt return specialist. The possibility of Chambers returning kicks could be a plausible one if his performance matches his offensive prowess.

"Yeah, I was telling Coach Mendenhall and Coach Tidwell that if they put me back there at punt return or kick return I guarantee a touchdown," said a smiling Chambers. "I was like, ‘Look, if you put me back there for the first game I guarantee you, either at punt return or kick return, I'll score a touchdown.' I feel I can do it. It's about being swift and changing directions on the field fast and as quick as you can."

So what did Coach Mendenhall say in response to Chambers' touchdown guarantee?

"[Coach Mendenhall] was like, ‘Alright but look, you have to make it happen out here in practice first,'" said Chambers with a slight laugh in his voice. "I was like, ‘Alright, I'll be out there and the first one out there.' He just said he wanted to see me showing them that I was serious about being back there. He said he wanted to see me being the first one out there working hard and showing them that I really want to be back there, and we'll work something out."

While playing back at Harmony High School, Chambers fielded punts for his team.

"I know I can do it," Chambers said. "That was my specialty in high school and coaches stopped kicking to me in high school. For the first two games I was leading the state of Florida in punt returns."

Coach Mendenhall has stressed to Chambers that he must earn the right to have ownership of the team. Nothing is given and one must make an effort in order achieve success. It's a lesson Coach Mendenhall instills in his younger players that reflects the reality of life.

"[Coach Mendenhall] doesn't want anything just given to me, but [wants that] I have to really work for it," Chambers said. "So right now that's what I'm trying to do. I'm just trying to work hard to show them that I'm worthy to even touch the field. Right now I'm focusing on getting the plays down and that's the thing I'm struggling the most with. If I can get that down I'll be fine."

As one of the newest members of the "Band of Brothers," Chambers has received help from his fellow teammates.

"Some of the older guys have really helped me," said Chambers. "Guys like Austin Collie and Mike Reed have taken me in and helped me out with learning the plays and the offense. It's been good."


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