Born with a pas­sion

Fresh­man CB grew up with foot­ball

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - BROOKS KUBENA

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.

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