Born with a passion
Freshman CB grew up with football
The 20th in a series profiling newcomers to the Arkansas Razorbacks football team.
Some players might say they were born to play football, but Chevin Calloway can make an earlier claim.
The Arkansas Razorbacks freshman cornerback spent the majority of the 1998 football season being carried to games in the womb of his mother Jeanell Davis, who was a senior at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
As soft music played through a pregnant belly has shown to improve a child’s speech development, perhaps the staccato drumlines, echoes of crowds and shrieks of whistles reached Calloway and set him on a path toward football.
Born in November of the Golden Lions’ 8-3 season, Calloway spent the first few years of his life surrounded by college football.
“We used to go there, go to games,” said Calloway, who was carried by family to UAPB homecoming festivities along with his 5-year-old sister, Brittaney. “It was just a little tradition.”
Jeanell and Calloway’s father, Charles, married and moved from Altheimer to attend UAPB. The family moved to Denton, Texas, in the summer of 1999 when Davis received an academic scholarship for a master’s program at North Texas.
The family moved to DeSoto, Texas, a small city south of Dallas in 2000, and Calloway eventually attended Dallas Bishop Dunne — a catholic prep high school where Calloway became a consensus Top 20 defensive back in the country as rated by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports.
Recruiting pundits had Calloway pegged for a commitment to Texas, but in the summer of 2016 before his senior year, Calloway orally committed to Iowa.
Bishop Dunne went 8-6 that season as Calloway led the team with 11 passes defended and recorded three interceptions. His team lost 21-17 to Dallas Bishop Lynch in the TAPPS Division I state championship game.
By that time, Calloway said, Iowa was no longer keeping in touch.
“The coaches weren’t getting in contact like they used to,” Calloway said. “Didn’t really get contact with coaches, no visits, and they were upset that I was visiting other schools.
“I didn’t know anything about that policy. We stopped talking. And I was trying to visit. My parents, they hadn’t really seen it.”
On Nov. 8, Calloway decommitted.
Bishop Dunne head Coach Michael Johnson said Calloway is “a cerebral type of thinker,” and the cornerback restarted his search for a school.
On Jan. 24, Arkansas head Coach Bret Bielema visited his home.
“It was real genuine,” Calloway said. “He was an honest person, kept it real. I could tell he has a good heart. Really cared for his players.”
Bielema said he couldn’t promise Calloway anything, but if he worked hard, he’d play.
“Others will come in and say you’ll start,” Davis said. “[Bielema] said it’s really not just about starting, it’s about competing out there. But Arkansas sold us the whole academic part. Nothing compared to Arkansas.”
The visit was Calloway’s last before national signing day, and he had narrowed his
choices to Ole Miss, Texas and Arkansas. Davis, who has been a teacher at DeSoto Elementary School for 17 years, charted three large T-charts for each school.
“We’re going to the classroom,” she told him. “Let’s go.”
They created a point system and awarded each school one to three points each for academics, location and coaching stability.
“I’m not sure if it affected the decision,” said Davis, who laughed about how Calloway reluctantly played along. “But we had to look at it that way.”
A week before signing day, Calloway had narrowed his decision to either Ole Miss or Arkansas. That Thursday, Ole Miss called and said it had run out of scholarships.
“‘Good luck,’ ” Calloway recalled the voice on the other end saying.
Calloway hung up and looked at the time: 5:55 p.m., a sequence of numbers that Davis later told him was as good a sign as any that his remaining choice was the one meant for him.
Calloway committed to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville on Feb. 1, then attended the Razorbacks’ spring game April 29 to finally clear the noise of the recruiting experience.
In an era where athletes often compete for attention on social media as much as they do in their respective fields, Calloway longs to be part of a team that focuses on true competition.
“It should be like when we were kids: Just go out there and do what we love,” Calloway said. “We didn’t care about fame, we just loved football. Make plays. I know that’s what I’m going to do. Hopefully others can feed off it.”
Arkansas freshman cornerback Chevin Calloway had narrowed his college decision to either Ole Miss or Arkansas the week before national signing day. He chose the Razorbacks when an Ole Miss coach called to say the Rebels had run out of scholarships.
Arkansas cornerback Chevin Calloway committed to Arkansas after Mississippi told him that the Rebels had run out of scholarships.