Word’s out on Central’s Terrell Chatman

Terrell Chatman wasn’t Central High’s top receiver as a junior. He didn’t have a game-winning touchdown catch.

That hasn’t stopped the senior-to-be from becoming one of Louisiana’s hottest football recruits this summer.

“It just came out of nowhere,” Chatman said. “I don’t guess I’m shocked because I do think I’m good. I was surprised by how it happened. You want to get recruited, but I never expected this.”

The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Chatman has offers from 10 Division I schools, the most recent coming from Miami, a school he plans to visit in the days ahead.

Chatman missed part of his junior season with a separated shoulder. He also played in the shadow of senior Gary Triplett, a smaller receiver known for making big plays in the passing game and on special teams, for much of the year.

“To make a long story short, his film got out there and word got out there,” Central coach Sid Edwards said. “He’s on fire. We had 7-on-7 last week at Walker and I asked, where’s Terrell? ‘Oh, he’s in Starkville.’ He gets a call asking if he can go to a camp, he takes off, drives up there and comes back in one day. He rarely stays the night. Terrell just does what he does.”

What Chatman does perhaps as well as any Louisiana receiver is use a 40-inch vertical to snare balls thrown high in the air — high-pointing them.

“He’s so coachable now,” Central receivers coach Brandon Lagroue said. “He’s grown up so much, and his route running is among the best I’ve ever seen. He’s obviously athletic. Terrell is becoming a complete player now. He doesn’t want to just be the guy who makes the spectacular play. He wants to be the guy that makes the block to get somebody else in the open.”

Chatman also has offers from Georgia, Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Miss, Arizona, Arizona State, TCU, Houston and Wake Forest.

There is often no rhyme or reason to explain why colleges flock to a particular football recruit.

It has to start somewhere. Though he doesn’t have an offer from the Tigers, Edwards said a visit by LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron late last year may have started it all for Chatman.

“We were showing him film on Kevin Henry (a defensive back and LSU commitment),” Edwards said. “We were doing some drills in those films. Terrell made this catch where he was suspended in the air and he (Cameron) asked, ‘Who is that guy?’ That’s usually how it starts.”

Edwards and the Central High coaching staff saw it coming. Despite the shoulder injury, Chatman showed flashes of brilliance, which his junior highlight film illustrates.

First came a kickoff return for a touchdown vs. Denham Springs in which Chatman raced from one side of the field to the other. He didn’t score a TD in the Wildcats’ upset of West Monroe in the Class 5A playoffs, but Chatman still played a huge role.

“Terrell made two big catches that led to our touchdowns at West Monroe,” Edwards said. “We wouldn’t have won if he hadn’t made those plays.”

Off the field, Chatman is a Mr. Fix-It with computers and other electronic devices, including iPhones. Chatman is also working on-the-field fixes.

“I grew up playing basketball and football,” Chatman said. “Whatever was in season was what I liked best.

“My speed has improved a lot. I’m at 4.5 (seconds) in the 40 (yard dash), and I’m working to get better. Everybody in college is big and fast. The faster you are, the better off you are. My leaping ability is good, but there’s still room for improvement.”

One of Chatman’s trademarks, wearing different color socks, generates some gentle teasing from coaches and teammates. On this day, he wore one red sock and one blue sock to conditioning workouts.

“It’s the swag,” Chatman said, pointing to his socks. To which Edwards quips, “You’ve got guys with hundreds of shoes … He’s the guy with a thousand socks.”

Lagroue recalled a windmill dunk Chatman executed in a summer league basketball game the night before, calling it “incredible.”

Edwards again chimes in asking, “So I heard about the dunk. Is it true you didn’t do anything else for the other 39 minutes?”

Chatman takes it all in stride and smiles.

“I’m good at high-pointing balls,” Chatman said. “I think I’ve been in the right spot for things. Gary (Triplett) helped me a lot. I want to help my teammates do that.”