Cheadle now mulling over a move

Justin Cheadle

We've said it before, but that doesn't mean any less every time you say it thereafter, but it's true: Combines make a difference. If you do well, your stock as a player goes up and if you don't, it will just as easily go down. But for some, there are even more significant ramifications. That's what offensive lineman Justin Cheadle found out, because now after his most recent combine, coaches say he should be on defense instead. He agrees.

Prior to his trip to Stanford for one of the many combines held throughout the country this year, Bakersfield (California) high school standout Justin Cheadle was convinced he was going to play the offensive line. 

After all, that's what the offers were coming to him to play, so why not think that, and Cheadle didn't argue. There's a lot about playing O-line he likes. "I love to run block," Cheadle said. "In our offense, we run all the time, so I get to pull a lot. And there's nothing better than getting some DB, who doesn't even know you are there." 

"You just want to light that guy up," Cheadle continued. "When I get one of those small guys, I try to throw them into the bleachers." 

Well, with his mindset, yeah, I'd say offense suits him. He's got the disposition, but for the next level, he's especially got the frame to play. Currently, Justin stands close to 6 foot, 5 inches, but his weight is only around 260 pounds. For Division 1-A, that would obviously have to change.  

Then again 

Off of a recent showing at a combine at Stanford, it was Cheadle's prowess on the other side of the ball, which turned heads and suddenly, those coaches recruiting him for one side of the ball, suddenly changed their tune. 

"The coaches say I should be on defense now, because of what I was doing in the one-on-one drills," Justin said. "I got in those and I was just killing guys. It was a lot of fun." 

And at his current weight, Cheadle is certainly closer to what he would need to weigh for that position at the next level, making Justin like the idea even more.  

Suffice it to say the kid is versatile.  

You have an offensive lineman with defensive end-like quickness. You have a defensive end with offensive lineman-like strength. And wrapped up within that impressive shell, you have a kid, who while angry, nasty and all that on the field, is a casual-fun-loving-3.8-GPA-sporting student off of it. 

You can imagine what one of his biggest criteria is for the college he will eventually attend. "If I had to choose a school based on either athletics or academics being their strength, I'd go with academics first, because that's what you need when you don't have football anymore," Justin said. "I've thought about taking business, but I also would like to look at engineering." 

There's certainly a bevy of schools on his side of the country, who have excellent reputations in that area. Cal, of course, being one, along with it being a school much closer to his Bakersfield home. Stanford is another, who offered Cheadle in writing not too long ago. That would make seven total for the prepster, the Cardinal joining Washington State, Nebraska, Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State and Arizona. 

At this point of the year, Justin is obviously loving the attention, but he's loving even more the potential of an increase in that over the next few months. "It's just about having choices and opportunities, and the more I have, the more I know I will be at a place, which is perfect for me," he said.  

Opportunity is another thing Cheadle is concentrating on, but if the academics are even with the schools, or he at least sees something he likes with more than one, the next phase of the decision process kicks in. "I want to play and I want to play early," he said. "To be honest, I don't care which side of the ball it is, because my goal is to get on the field just as fast as I can." 

I'll leave it to you the fan to figure out which of those schools above offer Cheadle the best opportunity to do just that. 

It's not just them, though. There's schools like Cal, who we mentioned earlier. Oh, and then there is this team, also close to him, called USC. When you have grown up a Pac 10 homer, getting some of them is nice, but getting them all would be ideal. 

"I love the Pac 10, because that is what I grew up watching," Cheadle said. "They have good schools and most of them are at places close to my home. My parents want to see me play and I want them to see me play too. So, if I can, I'd like to stay closer to home." 

Schools like Colorado State and Nebraska, the two "outsiders" to have offered him, seem to have been left in the dust. For the Huskers at least, though, Cheadle offered some, if only a glimmer of hope for the avid fans of the big red. "I'm not sure if I can, but if it's possible, I'd like to make it out to Nebraska this summer," he said. "I don't know how likely it is, that I would go there with it being as far away as it is. But I can't say I would completely rule them out. I guess, maybe 25%. That's about the shot I would give them right now." 

With all that in mind, the only thing left for Cheadle is to continue on doing what he does. And unlike last year, he'll have a full-time role on defense this season. Last year he served as a situational player, and the situation Justin described pretty simply: "If we needed a play on defense, they sent me in," he said. "I'm thinking that if I can come in, in situations like that, I should be in there all the time. But they know what's going on and I just play. So, tell me where to go, and that's where I'll go." 

Cheadle said that he's already visited USC unofficially and, of course, he's now seen the campus of the Cardinal. Arizona State and Cal make up the rest of the unofficial visits he's made. As for who's next, Arizona possibly, if he can make it, but as to the rest, he doesn't know right now. 

While Justin said that he would ideally like to know where his future school is by the mid-point of the season, he said he'll take as long as it needs to take. This is only May, so he knows he's got the time. "I'm in no hurry if I have to take more time to think about it, because it's a big decision to make," he said. "I know I have a lot of great choices right now. It just takes time to figure out who fits me the best."

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