PLANTATION, Fla. — Even after taking a couple of visits to Hard Rock Stadium, Andrew Chatfield was caught somewhat off guard when Miami finally pulled the trigger with a scholarship offer. The No. 7 Hurricanes had watched the 4-star weakside defensive end closely for years, yet never saw fit to make an offer. It seemed possible one would never come for the pass rusher from Plantation’s American Heritage School.
Miami, however, still needs another defensive end in the Class of 2018, possibly one who can play some linebacker, too. With a full-time move from defensive end to linebacker for his senior year, Chatfield got a chance to showcase a new set of skills. On Nov. 2, the Hurricanes finally sent out an offer.
“They don’t give off nice facial expressions or anything like that, they just talk to you,” Chatfield told DieHards on Friday after an opening-round playoff win. “That was the only thing. They always talked to me, always showed me love and everything, but I never expected it, to tell you the truth.”
The offer from the hometown school didn’t immediately shoot Miami to the top of his list. Chatfield still likes Florida and LSU, and will visit Oklahoma on Saturday. If all the recent unofficial visits are any indication, though, Chatfield likes what he sees from the Hurricanes. Finally, Miami also likes what it sees from Chatfield.
— Andrew Chatfield™ ⛽️ (@Drew_Chatfield) November 2, 2017
The senior did his usual thing during a 42-0 blowout of Merritt Island (Fla.) High School in Plantation. In just more than one half, Chatfield totaled more than half a dozen tackles and 5 tackles for loss. Merritt Island finished with negative yardage against the American Heritage starters.
Chatfield’s nose for the ball isn’t what has been the difference this fall. He’s always been a natural pass rusher. The move to outside linebacker has been a challenge to add new skills, and Chatfield has passed the test.
“He’s become more versatile,” Patriots coach Patrick Surtain said. “We’ve moved him around a little bit and that might be the position he has to play in college, like a hybrid guy, so we’re doing different things with him. I think they saw his versatility and that’s why they extended an offer.”
The Mustangs offense didn’t test Chatfield’s new skills. Merritt Island ran an option attack, so Chatfield put his pursuit skills on display. Both he and 4-star defensive tackle Nesta Silvera, a Hurricanes commit, lived in the Mustangs backfield, chasing Merritt Island sideline to sideline at Heritage Field.
About half of Chatfield’s tackles for loss were combined efforts with Silvera, who finished with 11 tackles and 2 sacks. It’s a plausible scenario now that the two could continue tormenting offenses at the next level.
“We came out to have fun,” Chatfield said. “They got negative yards. They didn’t get anything on us. It’s hard to run on these South Florida boys, really.”
The biggest question separating Chatfield from Miami is a matter of fit. Surtain moved Chatfield out to linebacker this season to start preparing the pass rusher for the next level. Chatfield is considered the No. 16 weakside defensive end in the nation by the 247Sports composite rankings, but at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he’s a bit undersized to play the position in a 4-3 defense.
So Chatfield’s development as a potential hybrid player is appealing. The Hurricanes still don’t have a linebacker committed in this class and Chatfield could fill multiple needs.
“Even though he can play D-end,” Surtain said, “I think his position in college will be an outside ‘backer.”
Chatfield is in no rush to make a decision, either. Since Miami was something of a surprise, Chatfield needs some time to think over his latest offer, and how it compares to the Gators and Tigers.
But the No. 5 Sooners are the first to get an official visit. While he hasn’t mentioned Oklahoma much in the past, Chatfield said he’s in constant contact with Sooners coach Lincoln Riley and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, but feels he needs to see the game day atmosphere in Norman, Okla.
Chatfield won’t sign until National Signing Day, so he has time to weigh all his options — old and new.
“Like I always say on every offer, everything is really a blessing,” Chatfield said. “I’m just watching like always. That’s just the main thing right now.”
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