Arizona State had to wait a little longer to secure a commitment from Terrell Chatman after National Signing Day. Now, they’re hoping to have delayed gratification from him on the field, as well.
Chatman, now a redshirt sophomore, is hoping to join Devin Lucien and Tim White as recent examples of post-Signing Day additions to have a significant impact at the receiver position. While Lucien and White’s impacts were immediate, Chatman has the potential to leave a lasting long-term impact.
The 6-foot-3 receiver’s recruitment went past the wire. Chatman had been committed to Miami and was also considering TCU in addition to the Sun Devils, but reopened his recruitment on National Signing Day. A few days later, he signed with ASU.
“I just wanted to make the right decision, and I needed more time to do so,” Chatman said. “I just needed time.”
Chatman, then a 3-star prospect, said his visit to Tempe in late January made the difference.
“When I came on my visit, I really bonded with everyone and I think that establishing relationships, not just with coaches but the players that you’ll be with was a big part of it.
“Tempe’s great out here. It’s so much different than Louisiana. I just loved the environment out here. Being in Tempe, it’s a college town and there’s plenty to do out here and that’s why ASU stood out to me.”
Chatman arrived on campus in the summer and quickly realized he had a large adjustment to make. For one, there was the pace. Chatman said he wasn’t quite used to the tempo of a typical college practice, as well as the ability for opponents to make his size and quickness on the field. The skilled receiver clearly had the physical tools to make an immediate impact, but wasn’t expecting to have that level of physicality be matched or even exceeded.
“I was the best athlete in my high school, and I was just so used to going out and showcasing my talents right off the bat,” Chatman said.
For that reason, Chatman has only appeared in three games in his three years on campus – all on special teams.
Much of Chatman’s education has been on the non-explosive attributes of his game. For one, it’s how he’s lined up. Then, his footwork coming in and out of his break. Finally, the art of using his hands to get release at the line of scrimmage and create space for himself to catch the ball.
It’s a focus that Chatman didn’t spend much time on as a true freshman, but has become a critical part of each practice at this point in his career.
“At first, I wasn’t even that worried about the technical things,” Chatman said. “I was just saying to throw it up, and I was going to go get it. I was that type of guy. But I’m starting to realize how important it is to work on the little things. If I’m going to make it to the NFL someday, those are the things I’m going to need to work on to stick out.”
Chatman has also faced something that most young college receivers don’t. New receivers coach Rob Likens will be the third person to assume that position in as many years, taking the reins from current Nevada head coach Jay Norvell and current Notre Dame assistant Del Alexander.
Chatman said Likens, who was hired three months before spring practices began, made an immediate effort to connect with a young, albeit talented group.
“I really like coach Likens, just the energy he brings to the team,” Chatman said. “It’s funny at times, but he can get serious. He’s a really respectable guy. The first week he got here, he invited all of the receivers to his house and we got to meet his wife, meet his son, just bond.”
Likens said he’s been encouraged by Chatman’s early progress, but added that he still needs to mature and work on providing consistent effort. Some of it, Likens said, can be attributed to a lack of playing time early in his career.
“He’s got to go out there and play 60 snaps, and he can do it,” Likens said of Chatman. “He can be the guy. He just needs to have that mindset when he goes in.
“That happens to players who don’t play a lot. They kind of look around like, ‘Am I really supposed to be here? Can I really do this?’ He’s making plays, and more plays that he makes, you’ll see him start to get better and better as he makes plays. He needs to get in a game and make a couple big plays in games and I think that’s when you’ll start seeing guys take off.”
Likes said he hopes he can figure Chatman into a talented bunch of eight receivers who will rotate for reps during the season. While there are no seniors among the bunch and the only natural standout is sophomore N’Keal Harry, each of the receivers should figure play a role. Likens said he sees the rotation as a net positive.
“Competition, it makes the No. 1 guy even better,” Likens said. “He knows that if he has two bad days in a row, he’s going to get replaced. Competition just brings out the best in everything.”
Chatman said he’s excited about the possibilities if he can crack the two-deep.
“The sky is the limit for us as a group, and I think I fit into that picture great,” he said. “We’re going to be rotating a lot because there’s a lot of talent, and everybody is going to showcase their talent on the field this year.”