Making Strides

West Virginia signee Asa Chapman continues to make strides toward attaining his college eligibility, but his progress has its roots in a big move he made during his sophomore year of high school.

It was during that year that Chapman, who lived in New Jersey, moved out of a shaky New Jersey environment to live with his grandparents in Virginia.

"The environment he was in, I was afraid it would swallow him up," Chapman's grandfather James said. "You have to belong to some sort of gang up where he was. He was trying to stay out of that because he liked sports. He wanted to play sports, and that's what he concentrated on, but he got hassled by the gangs up there. So I told my daughter that I wanted him to come live with us. She said he could get in trouble anywhere, but I told her that he'd have to go down a long road through the woods to find it here. Up there, it was right outside his front door."

Chapman, who spent the past year at Fork Union Military Academy after graduating from Orange County High School, has used the lessons his grandparents taught him well.

"The main thing is we wanted him to have discipline," James said. "Everything going on in the world is not conducive to success. We wanted to help teach him to have some personal pride about himself, and instill some ethics in him."

Those qualities are obviously reinforced at a military academy, and James is pleased with the way his grandson has progressed at FUMA.

"I think it gave him structure and taught him good study habits. He seems to have matured some, and he takes things more seriously now. Instead of being such an individual, he's more of a team player. And that's not just on the field, but in all facets of his life. He takes interest in what the other guys are doing.

"For example, they all have to work together to keep their billets clean, and he does that. He's more sharing. He has just grown up a lot."

James is quick to point out that Asa "was not a bad person". He simply needed an environment that was conducive to succeeding. He got that, both with his grandparents and at FUMA.

The big question, of course is whether or not he will qualify this year and enroll at West Virginia for the 2007 season. James noted that his academic work has been steadily improving, and that his most recent report card showed "very good grades". Chapman will take a standardized test again on May 10, and hopes to earn, in combination with his grades, a qualifying score.

Should he earn his eligibility, Chapman could provide the size West Virginia has been looking for at nose tackle on defense. His ability to absorb double teams and make plays in the middle would be quite handy in West Virginia's 3-3-5 defense.

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