Paul Chaney Jr. had an ultra-quiet 2008 season, catching just two passes and seeing action in only five games.
This had to be a doghouse deal, though there’s been no public dissatisfaction from the coaching staff. As a redshirt freshman wide receiver in 2007, Chaney caught 19 passes for 210 yards and a TD, a 23-yarder that gave forced a second overtime against Michigan State. Granted, the WR corps changed drastically in 2008, with Andy Brodell returning from injury, but going from 19 receptions as a freshman to just two as a sophomore shows disconnect.
Chaney saw a few balls go his way during the spring scrimmage April 18, so maybe he’ll be a factor in 2009. He’s certainly a factor right now for the Iowa track team.
This weekend, the junior posted PBs in the 100 (10.51 seconds) and 200 (21.4) at a meet in Champaign, Ill., both of which were NCAA regional qualifying times. During the 2008 indoor season, Chaney placed eighth in the 60- and 200-meter dashes, posting a 6.85-second 60 during the season (fifth-best in school history).
During his opening news conference of spring practice, coach Kirk Ferentz said on Chaney and a 6.8-second 60, “I was happy to see Paul Chaney do so well with track. Hopefully, that’s a sign that he’s getting ready to knuckle down and get with it.”
The only other Iowa football player on the track roster is wide receiver Trey Stross. A high jumper, the only numbers posted for him are from the 2008 season, including a height of 6-8 3/4.
There was some minor upheaval within Iowa’s receiving corps this spring. Junior Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, the team’s leading receiver the last two seasons, was relegated to second-team and saw only a few passes thrown his way during the April 18 scrimmage. Sophomore Marvin McNutt climbed the ranks, quickly, after moving full-time from QB. During the scrimmage, junior Colin Sandeman was a force, catching four passes for 113 yards.
When asked about any sort of message being sent to DJK, Kirk Ferentz gave a quick rundown of the wideouts:
“He’s (DJK) competing like everyone else. There are no imcumbents,” Ferentz said. “. . . We have no guarantees. Everyone has to play, compete. That’s not so much DJK, Marvin has done a good job and so have some other guys. Trey has always been a good player. Paul Chaney has been getting better. Colin has had his moments.
“Hopefully, all of those guys will continue to grow because we’re hardly home free at wide receiver.”
“I don’t know how much guys on campus worry about new guys, but I think you look around the room and know it’s going to be competitive,” Ferentz said. “Just get the best guys out there. I don’t have any favorites, just the best guys on the field. That’s how it shook out (he said, referring to the spring scrimmage order). ”
Here’s a bonus story on Chaney when he committed to Iowa in 2006. (I don’t think this made it to the ‘net orginally. It’s long, but if you’re interested, here it is:
What a crazy, wonderful, exhilarating, terrifying year and a half for the Chaneys.
While Paul Jr. was winning sprint state titles for St. Louis University High School, Paul Sr. was in Afghanistan training Afghan brigades.
In December 2004, Susan Chaney, Paul Jr.’s mom, suffered third-degree burns on her hands during a grease fire. Paul Jr. took over kitchen duty. Paul Sr. came home on an emergency furlough for a month while Susan recuperated.
Paul Sr., an Army major and 22-year member of the Armed Forces, had to rejoin his Missouri National Guard unit on Christmas day.
Merry Christmas and goodbye.
Last May, Paul Jr. won the 100- (10.52 seconds) and 200-meter (21.25) dashes at the Missouri state track meet, posting the state’s fifth- and sixth-fastest times for those events. He finished third in the 400 (48.69), scoring 26 of his team’s 46 points to lead SLUH to third place, its best performance at the state meet.
In Afghanistan, Paul Sr. blew off the nine-hour time difference and stayed up until 4 a.m. to follow the meet through the Internet and cell phone calls.
Two months later, after a little more than a year in Afghanistan, Paul Sr. returned home, but not without a scare when a Humvee he was supposed to be on hit a land mine and was destroyed.
“I dedicated every race to my dad last season,” Paul Jr. said. “It motivated me. He was doing something far better, way bigger, than what I was doing. It took a lot of heart and bravery.”
Today, Paul Jr. will sign a national letter of intent to play football for the University of Iowa.
“Paul’s been playing football since he was 6, and I never missed a game. I missed his whole junior year,” said Paul Sr., a pharmaceutical sales rep based in Swansea, Ill. “Being over there, it was a bittersweet year for all of us.”
Seeing firsthand what speed did for Penn State’s offense and what Ted Ginn has done for Ohio State’sspecial teams, Iowa coaches wanted to upgrade team speed in this recruiting class. Paul Chaney Jr. will do that when he steps foot on campus this summer.
He received scholarship offers in track from Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Nebraska. Because of his speed, he received football offers from Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan State.
Chaney ran an unofficial 21.1 200, which would have snapped a Missouri state record established in 1968.
He was credited with a 10.1-second 100 meters and set a Metro Catholic Conference record with a 10.4.
Chaney played quarterback for SLUH, completing 44 of 88 pass attempts for 564 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. He rushed for 688 yards and 12 touchdowns on 141 carries.
His football recruiting picked up after his performance last summer at the Nike Camp in Manhattan, Kan. He earned camp MVP honors, running a 4.33-second 40-yard dash.
Chaney, 5-foot-9-1/2, 165 pounds, plans to run for the Iowa track team, fitting the outdoor season around spring football practice.
“Most schools wanted me to focus on one or the other,” Chaney said. “I told the Iowa coaches what I wanted to do as far as running and playing. They were really open about it.
“I really trust the coaches up there and believe them, and that’s what made my decision to go to Iowa much easier.”
Chaney has had serious track aspirations since he bloomed as an eighth grader.
“I want to take it as far as I can,” he said. “I’ve been told by many and I think I could eventually compete at the highest level. I just have to work hard and ride both track and football out as far as possible.”
About three years ago, Ray Armstead, a St. Louis native and Olympic gold medalist on the 1984 USA 1,600 relay, started coaching Chaney on the track. He didn’t charge for his services.
With state titles and jaw-dropping times, Chaney is advertising that Armstead can’t buy.
“I think he can be an elite athlete in the 400 meters,” Armstead said. “He’s big enough and strong enough to play both track and football. They don’t hurt each other. He can thrive in both.”
Armstead said the 4.33 40 Chaney logged at the Nike Camp is just the start. He said when Chaney is in top track form he’d probably be closer to the 4.2 range, an outrageous, almost unbelievable time.
“He will do what it takes to be the best – football, track, whatever,” Armstead said. “He’s not afraid of working hard.”
Paul Sr. and Susan Chaney are from Indianapolis. Susan ran track in junior high. One of her early teachers was late Olympic great Wilma Rudolph.
“We looked at Penn State’s model with speed and what Ohio State and Teddy Ginn has done, speed is a factor,” Paul Sr. said. “Those guys aren’t the biggest guys out there, either. They’re built around speed.”
Speed is a trait a lot of Iowa’s 19 signees share. Michigan wide receiver Anthony Bowman, another Iowa recruit, has run the 40 in 4.5 seconds. Several Hawkeye recruits have 40s in the 4.55 range.
Paul Sr. can’t wait to sit back and watch. The Desert Storm veteran will be up for a promotion with the Missouri National Guard in about a year. But with two grown kids – daughter Peyton is 12 – Paul Sr. is thinking seriously about retirement.
“I think we’re looking at a lot of trips to Iowa City,” Paul Sr. said. “I don’t want to miss a thing.”