Student of the game hearing from Cougs

HIS LEAGUE'S defensive player of the year as a junior, Ben Chandler has two offers under his belt already, and the old school throwback recently put on a show down in Berkeley at the combine. According to his prep coach, the Loomis, Calif., linebacker/tight end has a true passion for the game, and schools from the Pac-10 and beyond have taken notice. And he isn't shy about contacting college coaches to talk a little football.

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Chandler is consistently hearing from several Pac-10 schools, including Washington State, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, UW and Arizona State. Coaches from Boise State, UNLV, Fresno State, Sacramento State and Utah State are all keeping in close contact.

Chandler, who said he checked in at 6-3.5, 207-pounds at a recent combine, currently holds two offers -- from Boise State and Sacramento State, and could very well be on the verge of a few more. He's also hoping to hear from two schools that have long been favorites of his growing up, Wisconsin and Texas, before making his college choice.

A hard-nosed leader according to his prep coach, he plans on making his decision before Week 1 of his senior football season. He's already achieved a qualifying score on the SAT, scoring higher on the test than did some of his classmates who hold 4.0 GPAs. His Top 5 -- Boise State leads slightly over Cal, Fresno State, Washington State and UNLV. Coach Ken Greene is recruiting Chandler for the Cougs.

"He's a good guy," said Chandler. "I like him. I haven't been up there to check out the school but in talking to him, he's a pretty cool guy."

Del Oro High coach Casey Taylor says Chandler's an old school throwback, a guy who breathes football.

"Ben's very athletic and he has a great passion for the game of football," said Casey. "He's a very knowledgeable student of the game, a big time competitor and he's one of (those guys) that just wills a team to succeed. He leads us on and off the field. He works hard in the weight room, too."

Some May strength numbers for Chandler include a 250-pound clean, 400-pound squat and a 295-pound bench. On his junior season, Chandler had 103 tackles, 3 blocked punts (1 for a safety and 1 for a touchdown), 3 fumble recoveries and 3 forced fumbles. In addition to being named the SFL Defensive MVP, other honors from his junior campaign include being named first team All-Metro by the Sacramento Bee and second team all-state.

MOST SCHOOLS are recruiting Chandler at linebacker but speaking to his athleticism, he averaged 15 yards a catch from his TE spot, with 38 receptions for 568 yards (long of 65) and 5 TDs on the offensive side of the ball.

Some recent measurables include a 4.68 forty time, a shuttle in the 4.3 to 4.4 range, a vertical leap between 30 - 33 inches and 24 reps with 185-pounds up on the bar. At's Berkeley combine last weekend, some observers thought he was the top linebacker in attendance, although Scout's Chris Fetters gave the nod to McClymonds High's Joshua Tatum.

"Tatum was the toast of the linebacker corps, but Del Oro, California LB Ben Chandler and Dwight Roberson - who traveled north from Ventura (Calif.) Saint Bonaventure - gave Tatum a hard run for his money," says Fetters. "Chandler tested out really well and also showed a nice instinct during one-on-ones."

Further spring and summer plans include Sacramento State's camp with his Del Oro teammates, Boise State's camp and a likely camping trip to Fresno.

CONSIDERING A MAJOR in physical education or related field, Chandler has designs on being a football coach after his playing days come to a close. Other factors that will go into his college selection include the overall impression he gets about the coaches and football program.

"Coach accessibility -- having a guy who's real, that you can go and talk to," said Chandler. "And the players that I'm going to be playing with (would foster) a team atmosphere -- not just a place where guys are out there doing their thing. I want to go and win as a team. Location doesn't matter, I'll play anywhere."

Chandler has certainly gotten that sense from Boise State, attending the Bronco's spring game and talking on a regular basis with the BSU coaches. He's not one to wait around for coaches to contact him.

"The thing I'll do is promote myself -- if I see a coach, I'll go talk to him," he said. "If I can get a phone number, I'll call him -- But I don't always have a way to reach these guys."

In a position coach at the next level, Chandler wants to play for a competitor.

"I'd like to play for a hard nosed guy," he said. "A guy that likes to teach his guys to play tough and a guy that's really good scheme wise. And also, someone that you can just sit down and talk to about whatever. I'm going to be playing for him for 4-5 years, I'd like to have a good relationship with him."

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