Plugging The Gap

West Virginia's 3-3-5 stack defense has always featured smallish defensive linemen, but that look will change when its latest verbal commitment joins the team.

Asa Chapman, who stands 6-5 and currently checks in at around 380 pounds, committed to West Virginia on his official visit this past weekend. He will be slotted in at the nose, and hopes to be a force in the middle of the defensive front.

"I can clog the middle, but I can get in the backfield and make plays," said Chapman, who is quicker than most think when looking at his huge frame.

WVU has relied on quickness and technique from nose tackles such as Ben Lynch in the past, but with Chapman may have found the player that can consume space, eat up double teams and provide the edge for other defenders to move more freely. Chapman was a dominant defender for Orange County High School, and the Mountaineer coaching staff has hopes that he can bring that play to the college level.

Chapman originally committed to Virginia following his high school career, but came up short on qualifying and spent the past year at Fork Union Military Academy. While he has not yet qualified, he said that his current status "looks good" and that he expects to be eligible to play in the fall. He could possibly grayshirt, but that decision has yet to be made.

Chapman was hosted by defensive lineman James Ingram on his visit to WVU, and found the "Mountaineer Family" to his liking.

"I was really impressed by the whole atmosphere, and the chemistry between the players, and the coaches and everyone there," said Chapman as he returned to Fork Union from his visit. "You could just tell it was good, with the way the coaches treat the players and the way everyone hung out together. I just got to chill with some of the players, and they all supported each other. It was a family atmosphere, and that's what I was looking for. That's the type of program I want to be a part of."

Chapman also made an immediate connection with his host.

"James Ingram, he was very cool," Chapman related. "Sometimes it can be hard to connect with someone you just met, but we just clicked. And really, it was like that with the whole team."

Chapman thought he had finished the recruiting process after committing to Virginia, and still planned to join the Cavaliers after his year at Fork Union. However, UVA recently informed him that it could not admit him to school, even though he appeared to be on the verge of qualifying, and thus he reopened the process. That staggered the big man a bit, but he relied on his faith to get him through the setback.

"In a way, it was difficult, but I know that things are always going to work out. You never know what God has planned for you," the thoughtful Chapman said when asked to describe his feelings when he learned he would have to reopen the recruiting process. "I prayed on it a lot, and just knew I had to deal with it and move along."

West Virginia, of course, is delighted to get a player that had offers from schools such as Virginia Tech, Boston College, Nebraska, and Tennessee, as well as Virginia. And judging from his well-considered answers and demeanor, it seems as if the Mountaineers are getting a player that should fit in well with its family atmosphere.

One of the highlights of Chapman's visits, as it is for many players, was his meeting with hyperkinetic strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis.

"Before we met, all the players were telling me about him. I was thinking, ‘there's no way this guy can be like they are saying,'" Chapman said with a laugh. "Well, he was. He was wired. But you can tell it's not an act. He is just fired up all the time. I am looking forward to working with him."


At approximately 380 pounds, it might seem that Chapman has a lot of work to do in the training room. However, much of his weight is simply due to his huge frame, so it's not as if he will be dropping 100 pounds. He will likely play in the 350-360 pound range, so he might not require any more time in the WVU conditioning program than any other incoming freshman. Of course, that's still a lot of work for a player that has yo-yoed up and down in the weight department, but he seems willing to put in the work required to get the most out of his considerable talent.

Following his visit, Chapman returned to Fork Union to complete the semester. He is working on improving his GPA in the required core classes, and if he achieves the attainable goals he has set for himself, should qualify.

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