TAMPA – Don’t underestimate Hillsborough linebacker Armand Chalk. The rising senior may not be the tallest guy in the county at 5’8″, but he’s thick at 220 lbs. and uses every bit of his strength to his advantage.
In the weight room, Chalk puts up big numbers with his maxes on the bench press (340 lbs.) and squat (465 lbs.). The young man also runs track and is a wrestler for the Terriers. He has a website, armandchalk.com and to be honest that’s clear dedication. It’s very rare to see that from someone his age.
In 2015, he served as a full-time starter on defense for the first time in his three-year varsity career. As the middle linebacker, he totaled 93 tackles (49 solo) and three quarterback hurries in 10 games. Chalk also rushed for 86 yards on 10 carries as a fullback, a position he’ll earn a sufficient amount of snaps at this season.
Calling the defensive plays last year, Chalk says at times it was easy but it is certainly a lot of pressure since you don’t want to make mistakes. He’s more confident and focused this season and expects that to help his overall game.
“This year coming up will be way better,” Chalk said. “I’m going to know each and every play on the offensive and defensive side so I’m preparing myself for that as I jump into my senior year.”
Right now, Chalk is honing in on preparing himself both mentally and physically. He says his biggest strengths in his game right now are his ability to read plays well, his physicality and willingness to fly around the field.
As for the one area Chalk wants to improve, that would be his speed where he wants to get a step quicker. He also said this.
“Last season, I didn’t really injure myself, but I did catch a lot of cramps. This season I’m working on making sure I’m able to play.”
Gaining confidence after his sophomore season (30 tackles in nine games), he says having his mother so heavily involved in his football career is huge. She records videos from his games and camps to see what he can improve on.
Beginning his football life at age five, Chalk says there are a lot of people that have played a huge part in his progression.
“I started there getting the coaching from each and every little league coach, camps that I’ve gone through. There were many people who supported me along the way. That kind of helped me along the way with my confidence.”
Two of his biggest role models are his mother and 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee running back Jerome Bettis.
“Bettis is a physical runner who blocks really well and I think I take after him. My game is somewhat like his. As for my mother she is my supporter and is always there for me. I’m glad she’s there to guide me throughout my life.”
Earning interest from Alabama State and Akron thus far, Chalk says three other schools that he’d love to play for at the next level are Miami, Georgia and Mississippi State.
Playing for longtime head coach Earl Garcia, who is entering his 24th season at Hillsborough is something Chalk thoroughly enjoys. Under Garcia’s command, the Terriers have made 19 region appearances highlighted by finishing as the state runner-up in 1996. 2015 marked the first time in his tenure that Hillsborough failed to make the playoffs as they went 4-6.
“It’s great. Coach Garcia is a funny coach who is easy to get along with. I always stay on his good side. He knows what he is talking about since he’s been around the game for 40 years. Being a part of his team is great.”
Steve Longfellow, is one of the longtime assistant coaches on the staff that Chalk says he is very close with. He calls Longfellow a father figure type who checks up on him on and off the field.
Chalk wants to become a core leader and that is something this coaching staff is looking for this season out of him.
“My goal for this season is to be a role model to those that are coming up. Make sure they are doing the right thing instead of fooling around and being kids. We all have to be men someday so let’s start now and grow up by learning right from wrong.”
Averaging just over nine tackles per game last season, Chalk recorded 10 plus tackles on three different occasions including a career-best 18 stops in a Week 4 loss at King. He says he’s aiming for 20 tackles in a game this season.
As for what he thinks about every time he hits the turf, Chalk says he wants to dominate.
“Whether it be on your first rep or your last rep or the rep you just messed up on. Dominate whether it be right or wrong.”
Looking into the future, he knows that every person his age wants to be in the NFL one day, so he’s simply striving to get there.
“However, you always have to have a backup plan. When I go to college, I want to study either sports medicine or animal science.”
It’s hard not to like Armand Chalk. The kid is packed with strength from head to toe. I love that he lives by the motto of wanting to dominate on each and every snap. Off the field, he has lofty goals which is very important in this day and age.
The Hillsborough defense allowed only 13.8 points per game last season and will likely lower that number with so many seniors on board in 2016. Expect the Terriers to find their way back into the playoffs with Chalk being one of the core leaders.
Favorite player to watch – Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger
Playlist before games – Young Thug, Lil Wayne and Big Sean
Favorite movie – The Avengers
Favorite TV show – Family Guy
Fun fact about you, no one knows – “I want to be a veterinarian. I love all animals.”
Nicknames from teammates or friends – “Chalk” and “Beast”
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.