Former Woodland High running back and linebacker Austin Chadwick is one of those players.
When the opportunity arose for the 5-foot-10, 200-plus pounder to continue playing the game he holds dearly, he could not resist, signing Thursday to play for the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
“Of course I wanted to play more,” said Chadwick, whose family called him the ultimate kid at heart who loves to play football. “I’ve dreamed of it since I was a little kid — to keep playing. It’s one of the things I love, [so] of course I’d want to keep playing.”
The only question was where, and Wildcats defensive backs coach Adrian Steele, who also doubles as a recruiting coordinator, did his best to solve that problem, steering Chadwick to a school that has enlisted a few former Woodland players — Patrick Roper and Kodie Lentz are on the team’s roster.
“Coach Steele, he helped me make the choice. I went up there and visited and I wasn’t really sure, but right after I visited, [I knew]. They got a good campus and they’ve got good facilities, and they’re a winning team,” Chadwick said of the Patriots, who went 7-4 and made the playoffs in 2010. “I mean, that’s a good incentive to go play [for them].”
An equally good incentive came in Cumberlands’ decision to grab the former Wildcat.
“I’m a good leader,” Chadwick said. “I got amazing heart. I go out there and bust my butt every single play of the game.”
“I think with Austin you’re gonna get toughness — physically and mentally — with him,” said Tony Plott, Chadwick’s offensive coordinator in high school. “Anytime we needed a tough yard or anything like that in our offense, we made sure we gave him the ball. We knew he was gonna get three to five yards every time he touched it. We just wanted him to use his toughness and hopefully the toughness would rub off on the other players, and a lot of times, it did.
“He was just a big asset for us in our program for four years.”
Though Chadwick displayed considerable value as a tough runner between the tackles, he performed very well on the defensive side of the ball. In 2010, he led his team, and Bartow County, in tackles with 65 and was named to The Daily Tribune News’ All-County Football Team. He also was tabbed as Woodland’s defensive player of the year.
Chadwick figures to get his snaps on the defensive side of the ball at Cumberlands, even if a starting role may be down the line.
“I don’t know if I’m gonna start this year, but they said if I bust my butt this year, I should be able to play more and more,” Chadwick said. “I’ll probably play linebacker.”
As he gets set to turn the page on his prep career, Chadwick recalled his best memories as a Wildcat.
“[My] fondest memories would probably have to be sophomore year [on the] JV team. We kicked butt every single game [and] almost won every single game. And [the] last game of the season this year was very special to me. Everybody got close, topping off the year pretty good,” Chadwick said, recalling Woodland’s 42-39 upset over Sequoyah to close out his career.