If you think Tyreek Chappell has a little pop for a cornerback, you’re not wrong.
He wasn’t always a defensive back, and for the first 10 years of his football career, he was popping pads on every play.
“Until sophomore year, I was a running back and a linebacker,” said Chappell, a rising senior at Northeast High School. “I loved contact, I like hitting people. They moved me to corner because I was good at it, but I miss linebacker. I always loved hitting.
“I still hit as much as possible, when I can make a tackle, I love it. I miss playing linebacker, I loved it. But cornerback, I love that, too.”
Pretty much every college that saw the 5-foot-11, 180-pound speedster play cornerback loved what they saw, and he had a lot of them calling. In the end, the best fit for him was Texas A&M, where he’ll continue his career.
“It was the best fit for me, I had a great relationship with all the coaches and it just felt right,” said Chappell, a North Philadelphia resident who transferred to Northeast via Archbishop Ryan prior to his junior year. “I love the heat down there, too, I’ll love that. But I like the school, I wanted to play there and it’s a great school. It had everything I wanted.”
Chappell is everything the Aggies want.
Also a wide receiver and still an occasional running back, Chappell is the definition of a shutdown cornerback. Last year, despite a tough schedule and his team typically playing from ahead, Chappell was stingy, allowing just two completions on more than 40 attempts. Even more impressive when you consider the catches were cheapies.
“Neither one was good, both were like tip-drills, and I was still mad they caught them,” said Chappell, who helped lead the Vikings to the Public League championship last year. “Sometimes it gets boring when people don’t throw at you, but it’s good, though. When you can take a guy out of the game, it’s one less way (they can beat you).”
Teams certainly game planned to go away from Chappell, but that didn’t make moving the ball against the Vikings any easier. And this year it might even be harder.
Northeast’s defense is filled with Division I recruits, including defensive end Elijah Jeudy, who is bound for Georgia, tackle Amara Yobouet, who announced recently he’s headed to Albany, and safety Zaire McLaurin, who will play at Central Michigan. All are seniors, and along with running back Jon-Luke Peaker, who is going to Old Dominion, all have high hopes of making noise at the highest level possible.
But before they represent their colleges, they have a goal of helping Northeast have a memorable year in the fall.
“Our team is really good, we all want to win states,” Chappell said. “It’s all of us, though. We have a lot of talent, but that’s not it. We work hard, too. It’s everyone, too. Everyone. The offense is really good. The defense is great. And we have the best coaches. It’s everyone working together, that’s what makes us so good.”
The Vikings proved to be a very good team last year when they won the Public League championship rather easily, and knocked off Imhotep Charter during the regular season. Then, after running roughshod through the Public League Class 6A playoffs, the Vikings put a scare into eventual champion St. Joe’s Prep. The Hawks trailed Northeast by 14 points early in the game before Prep rallied to advance to the state quarterfinals. It was the fourth straight year Northeast played Prep in the city title game, and while the Hawks have won every year, every game was closer than the one before it.
Last year was arguably St. Joe’s Prep‘s best team, too.
“That was fun because they were great and we thought we could beat them,” Chappell said. “They’re going to be great this year, but our goal is to beat them. We have to get past them to get to states, and that’s our goal.
“I love playing them because they’re very good. That’s another reason I picked Texas A&M. I wanted to go to the SEC so I could play against the best. That’s like playing Prep, I want to play the best.”
Chappell is now able to look at his goals for his senior year with one of the big ones being checked off. He doesn’t have to worry about a college, so he can focus on the other things he wants to accomplish.
Both of his major goals are just to keep getting better.
“It’s easy now, I just want to get straight A’s and make states, and keep getting better as a player,” said Chappell, who has worked out just about every day since coronavirus shut down schools in March. “I can still get better. I have a lot to work on. And I’m going to keep working.”
Grades have always been important to Chappell, who will major in business. And that doesn’t necessarily come from within. He’s had help staying focused on school.
“I have a great family, my parents were the ones who made me study,” Chappell said. “I hated school, and they made me work hard in school, and it’s helped me a lot.
“I have a lot of support. I have my parents. My brother and my sister. My cousins. A lot of people. They all help me. My parents are actually moving to Texas, not because I’m going there, but because they’ve always wanted to, so they’ll go to my games.”