WVU's Chestnut ready to get off 'shoulder'
THE WAY the world of recruiting furiously churns, West Virginia football followers might see the name of once-highly touted signee Terrell Chestnut, consider him old news and, by now, a bust.
Chestnut joined WVU after dropping his commitment to Pitt with offers from schools like Miami, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Boston College and South Carolina hanging. But a shoulder injury dogged him.
The deal is this, though: Chestnut is still a freshman, albeit a redshirt freshman. He's listed No. 2 at boundary corner for the Mountaineers behind Pat Miller. And bust? He's now hoping to bust out.
"I'm very excited," Chestnut said. "It's humbling to be put in the fire after an injury like that. It doesn't happen often like that."
It's indeed been a bumpy road so far for the defensive back. Because he's been parked on the shoulder.
At Pottsgrove Senior High in Pottstown, Pa., he was The Man. A running quarterback and defensive back, he was a four-year all-state selection for former Mountaineer player and now high school coach Rick Pennypacker. Rivals.com tagged Chestnut as a four-star recruit.
"I never really counted," Chestnut said, "but I had offers from small schools like Temple all the way up to Florida and USC. I had quite a few.
"Coming in, though, I was very humbled to be in the position I was in. I didn't take anything for granted. Sure, I heard all the hype, but I knew I had to show the coaches what I could do."
Former WVU assistant Bill Kirelawich, now at Arizona, recruited the 5-foot-11 player.
"It was easy to choose here," Chestnut said. "I was committed to Pittsburgh early, but didn't want to be too far from home. I wanted to be close enough so my family and friends could come see me. My coach brought me here and I loved it. He graduated from here and knew I'd be taken care of."
Of his experience with Pitt?
"When Coach [Dave] Wannstedt left, I knew I had to get out of there," Chestnut said.
There was a problem though.
"My senior year of high school I dislocated my shoulder, tore my labrum," said the cornerback. "In January, I had surgery, but the procedure didn't go as planned. I participated in the first week of [WVU] summer camp and still had some subluxation, which is when your shoulder slides in and out of your socket. So I had another surgery, which kept me out of the fall."
Chestnut, however, looks fit these days.
"When I got hurt," he said, "I could have taken two different mindsets. I could've pouted or stayed focused. I realized I could still put myself in the position I am now. I came in at 161 pounds. I decided to get bigger and stronger and am now 185. I was in the weight room every time they practiced. It was tough, but I got through it."
The redshirt freshman said if he doesn't feel 100 percent healthy, he's close.
"It feels great," Chestnut said. "It's going to be sore because I haven't played but a week of football in the last year, but it's holding up pretty well. I'm still getting treatment to prevent the injury again."
He's also taking a mature approach to his situation. Despite all the accolades earned before joining the Mountaineers, Chestnut is behind a senior in Miller, who played in at least nine games for the past three seasons and started nine last year.
"It's competition, but, at the same time, I'm pushing [Miller] to get better and he's teaching me what he knows from experience," Chestnut said.
The other corner projected to start, Brodrick Jenkins, a redshirt junior, gives Chestnut kudos.
"He's doing good, coming off injuries," Jenkins said. "He handled the redshirt and injuries pretty well. He's taking the coaching of Coach [Daron] Roberts and looking up to Pat and I."
And when Chestnut gets his opportunity, said Jenkins, don't be surprised if he indeed busts out.
"Terrell is a fast player, good, aggressive and likes to learn," Jenkins said. "He has the tools to be a great corner."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.