Chatman brings dual athletic abilities to the field


Maria Baldwin, Staff Reporter

Dylan Chatman was 39 percent from the field goal line and 37 percent from the 3-point line during his two years on the Eastern basketball team.
File Photo
Dylan Chatman was 39 percent from the field goal line and 37 percent from the 3-point line during his two years on the Eastern basketball team.

Some athletes are at the fitness and skill level where they can play two Division 1 sports.

Dylan Chatman, a red-shirt senior cornerback for the football team, started his dual-sport career at a very young age.

‘’I’ve played basketball ever since I was 5, in little leagues like the YMCA,’’ Chatman said. ‘’When I got into fourth grade we had a team at our school, so then I started playing through middle school.’’

It was in high school, however, where Chatman decided to focus and excel at one sport.

‘’I started playing football at age five as well, but I stopped playing after my sophomore year of high school to focus on basketball,’’ Chatman said. ‘’I went to a junior college for two years, then came to Eastern Illinois to play basketball for another two years.’’

After a successful two years of basketball for coach Jay Spoonhour, Chatman finished his last basketball game and was surprised to see football special teams coordinator and coach Tony Gilbert waiting for him.

Chatman said that Gilbert came up to him and asked if he wanted to come out and play football in the spring.

Even though Chatman had not played since his sophomore year, he said he was up for the new experience and that it didn’t feel like work because it was so fun.

Chatman was allowed another semester to play football by the NCAA because he transferred in from a junior college.

‘’He was in the weight room and the strength coach knew that he had another year of eligibility left and told me that he’d be good on the field,’’ Gilbert said. ‘’I talked with him (Chatman) and he wanted to do it.’’

Eastern basketball Coach Jay Spoonhour also told Gilbert about the force Chatman would be on the football field.

‘’Coach Spoonhour told coach Gilbert that I showed up every game for basketball and coach Gilbert wanted the same thing out of me on the field, so I try to bring that energy at every game,’’ Chatman said.

The transfer from a collegiate basketball team to a collegiate football team was hard at times, Chatman said, but after growing accustomed to the training he adapted to the team.

‘’Basically I thought of it like I get to foul on every play,’’ Chatman said. ‘’I’ve played football before. I knew that it was going to be physical. The hardest part was learning all the plays. Once I got that down I was OK.’’

The football training understandably took a while to adapt to, but mostly because of the weight training.

‘’The football team lifts a lot heavier weight than the basketball team,’’ Chatman said. ‘’My first weight session, I threw up and passed out. We definitely run and lift harder.’’

Now edging closer to postseason play, Chatman is excited for the Panthers to make the playoffs. He’s not worried about his stats, he said. Chatman just wants to try to do everything and anything that he can for the defense.

Football was his first and last love, but not before excelling at basketball and having arguably the best dual career of any athlete in Eastern’s history.

‘’I would say that football was my first love. It was all I wanted to be. But, when the seasons change my love changes. I can’t say which one I like the most,’’ Chatman said. ‘’In football I like to make big plays when we need it. I try to just be consistent and show up everyday.’’


Maria Baldwin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]