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For Chestnut, the change to college ball will be a snap
CMA SENIOR GEORGE CHESTNUT signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and athletic endeavors at Southwestern University. He was joined for the signing by Spartans head football coach and athletic director Will Rice. - photo by Tom Didato

Some football players are more valuable than others.

For instance, you can always find people to run, throw and catch the football in some way, shape or form. Same goes for finding people to block and tackle. Try, though, playing the game without someone who can zip the football to your punter or, the holder for a PAT or field goal.

Long snapping is almost an art form which few players can perform or, are willing to try.

By signing Camden Military Academy offensive lineman/deep snapper George Chestnut, Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, is getting a young man who can fill more than one role and in the case of making sure punters and holders get a clean snap, that adds up to the ability to flip the field or, put points on the board.

Snapping and blocking aside, CMA head coach Will Rice said Southwestern is getting an outstanding young man in Chestnut.

“George has been here for two years and has been an invaluable member of our football program and to our school, actually,” he said. “He’s a great young man and he is a leader both on and off the football field. He’s also a company commander who leads his peers.”

Chestnut credited Rice and Spartans’ assistant coach Guy Eckenroth for helping him along throughout the recruiting process. But the soon-to-be CMA graduate did plenty of the leg work himself. Along with his older brother Matthew, the Chestnuts traveled to Las Vegas to the Chris Rubio Long Snapping Camp. After that camp, Chestnut attended another session directed by the three-year starting long snapper at UCLA in Charlotte. Soon thereafter, he had multiple college offers coming his way along with this evaluation from Rubio after having seen Chestnut in North Carolina last fall.

“George Chestnut has improved a ton since the last time I saw him in Texas,” Rubio wrote on his Website. “Body is maturing well and he has good athleticism for his size. Snapping with confidence will be key as he has great form and I want him to trust it. Lots of upside on this big, strong long snapper.”

In 2016, some 130 Rubio graduates went on to play college football and the number is growing with each season. Now, Chestnut is adding his name to the list of college-bound long snappers.

When it came time to choose a college, Chestnut found all that he wanted and then some in Southwestern, located some 25 miles south of Austin. The school and the Pirates’ football program offered the best of both worlds to the CMA lineman.

“It’s in close proximity to my family; my dad’s entire family lives in Austin,” Chestnut said of his collegiate choice. “I know the area very well and when I went down there the coaching staff, as well as the school, which is most important to me, kind of just spoke to me. It’s a small liberal arts college. They have a very good rate of people being accepted into law school which is, ultimately, what I want to do afterwards.

“It just really appealed to me. I really can’t put my finger on it; it was just a gut feeling.”

With an enrollment of a little more than 1,500 students, Southwestern student-athletes compete in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, an NCAA Division III circuit. The school brought back football in 2012.

Chestnut said football was not the end-all, be-all for his deciding to attend Southwestern.

“The professors that I met when I went there are just wonderful,” he said of the curriculum and the school’s approach to teaching and learning. “They have a really good first-year seminar program that I liked where it teaches you know only what to learn but how to learn. I thought that was very interesting and valuable as a student.

“I like that it’s a curriculum not based on learning straight from a textbook but focusing on how to learn and teaching you how to receive information and then you using that information in the real world.”

On the football field, Rice said the CMA offense took advantage of Chestnut’s skill set which includes his being a tough guy along the offensive front but a thinking man’s player, as well.

“He’s a steady guy who you can rely on making all the calls. He just did a great job for us,” he said. “His strengths are that he is hard-working and is very knowledgeable about football. They’ll work on his speed and I’m sure they will work on his core strength. They’re getting a valuable football player.

“He’s a great long snapper so, I’m sure they will look at him there. I’m sure they will also look at him along the offensive line and we’re excited about that.”

Along with football, Chestnut also played lacrosse for the Spartans and had several offers to play the sport in college. Southwestern was not among those programs seeking out his services for lacrosse but that will not stop Chestnut from doing his best to remain a two-sport athlete.

“That is definitely an option,” he said of playing lacrosse in the spring. “I had six lacrosse offers but (Southwestern’s) lacrosse coach talked to me after their football coach offered me. The (football) coach there said that he didn’t know about that because I was coming there to play football and he wanted me to play football.

“The last time I was down there, though, I talked to him and he said that it wasn’t a definite ‘no’ but that we’d talk about it later.”

Like any incoming freshman athlete, Chestnut said he has to prepare himself for the challenges that await him in playing at the college level and, being a college student.

“On the field,” he said, “I have to get faster and get stronger which is what, hopefully, the weight program will do. Off the field, being here helps a lot with time management.”

Chestnut came to CMA from his home in Nashville. Just as he did in choosing Southwestern, he did his homework on trying to find a school where he would complete his high school studies. He pointed out the decision to come to CMA was his alone.

“I chose to come here,” he said. “I had not-so-great grades at my old school; I wasn’t failing anything but they weren’t where I wanted them to be. Originally, I wanted to go to West Point and I knew (his high school grades) weren’t good enough to get into West Point. I looked into New Mexico Military Institute then I found CMA online and decided to come here.”

Chestnut said he has not regretted the decision to attend a school which has helped make him into a well-rounded man.

“(CMA) has helped me in lots of ways,” he said. “The coaching staff is very knowledgeable and very helpful. I was not expecting that from such a small school.

“Coach Rice and Coach Eckenroth have been wonderful in recruiting but they have helped me most in the non-athletic side of things; the discipline, getting ready for college, being away from home, learning how to budget your time and knowing when to study, when to go play, goof off and when to get serious.”