Cefalu signs at Chapman
John Cefalu put up some impressive numbers on the gridiron this year.
He amassed 33 touchdowns, threw for 3,235 yards, limited interceptions to five in 10 games, and earned All-League Offensive Player of the Year.
His most impressive stats, however, he collected in the classroom.
Cefalu’s 4.5 GPA and 2060 SAT are the real stats that gave Cefalu some choices when it came to picking a college. The South Tahoe quarterback had his choice between Pomona, Occidental, Lewis and Clark, Louis and Clark, Carnegie Mellon and Puget Sound – just to name a few. But all it took was one trip to Chapman University for Cefalu to realize that’s where he belongs.
He was sold after one day of touring the Division III, Southern California campus. He liked the highly ranked business program. He liked the warm weather, nearby beaches and the fact that his extended family lives nearby. He liked the football facilities, coaching staff and winning tradition that came along with it all.
He immediately canceled trips to Pittsburgh and Ohio he had made to visit other schools, and invested in some Chapman merchandise.
Chapman was exactly what Cefalu was looking for in a college.
“Some of the schools were all academic or all football, but Chapman was even on both sides,” Cefalu said. “I want to be set for the rest of my life because I’ll admit I’m not got to go to the NFL so I need to have that academic part.”
Chapman’s football team has both those parts. It’s a team that tied the league high of 14 players on All-Academic last year. It’s also a football team that is consistently in the top of its division, and finished with a 5-2 record last year.
Cefalu was a perfect fit, said recruiting coordinator Casey Shine.
“That’s exactly what we’re looking for; the guys who are serious about school, plus good athletes, and that’s what caught our eye with John,” Shine said. “On film you could tell the way he managed the game well, and he has arm strength and accuracy.”
But none of those football accomplishments were what earned Cefalu the prestigious Presidential Scholarship, worth $25,000. Additional grants Cefalu received added up to just about a full-ride academic scholarship.
“It’s the hard work in the classroom he put in and his SAT score,” Shine said. “John’s a cream-of-the-crop type student.”
He’s also a smart quarterback, just ask Vikings’ head coach Kevin Hennessee how many plays Cefalu successfully tweaked on the fly. Or ask coach Eric Beavers how many countless hours Cefalu put in on the South Tahoe football field, learning to throw from a higher angle.
His years of playing for a football team that routinely faces teams two to three times its size has made him tough.
“We’ve always been up against the biggest odds, but we’ve all put in the time and believed. There’s an extra gear you need to get into to get it done,” Cefalu said. “Chapman has lots of quarterbacks now, but I’m going to get the opportunity and I’ll prove myself. If not this year than next year.”
Cefalu may get a few snaps his freshman year, but most of that time will be spent getting bigger and learning the Chapman program.
“John is a fierce competitor so he’s going to make it hard wherever he goes to keep him off the field, because he wants to play,” Hennessee said. “But I think the bigger message here is so many doors opened for him because of his academics and I think sometimes kids just don’t see that.”