DALLAS — Chevin Calloway was explaining his cerebral approach to football — the mind games he plays with opposing receivers and his recent decision to give up social media — when he reached into his backpack and pulled out a library book.
The book? Bruce Lee: Artist of Life, a collection of the famous actor/martial artist’s private notes published in the early 2000s.
Calloway opened to Page 11 and read aloud.
“A gung fu man lives without being dependent upon the opinion of others.
“A gung fu master … holds himself in reserve, is quiet and unassuming, without the least desire to show off.
“To him, fame and status mean nothing.”
Whether he wants to or not, Calloway — the highest-rated Arkansas Razorbacks 2017 football signee — has experienced some degree of fame and status. If he lives up to the hype, those things will only become bigger and more pronounced.
And that is why he signed off social media for now. Calloway deactivated his Twitter account and hasn’t posted anything to Instagram in months.
“I just put away those distractions,” he said. “And it’s fun because I’m not stressing about it.”
Learning to love cornerback
When Calloway first transferred to Bishop Dunne High School and the coaches put him at cornerback, he hated it. He felt much more comfortable at safety and said that he grew more and more frustrated in practice as receivers beat him on play after play.
But once he put his mind to it, Calloway began to improve — and eventually thrive — at corner.
Another lesson learned.
“You get better when you’re in uncomfortable situations,” Calloway said.
And what on a football field is more uncomfortable than the cornerback position? You are entirely on your own — on an island, as they say — and forced to react to whatever the receiver is doing.
Calloway began to understand that being a successful cornerback requires playing mental games with the receiver. He said he doesn’t do much talking.
“Football is a physical game, but it’s a mental game, too,” Calloway said. “I love to play those mind games with receivers. Throwing them off their route, jamming them.
“Athletically, I can beat you, but mentally, I can beat you too.”
His approach made him one of the best cornerbacks in the 2017 recruiting class. He recorded 61 tackles — 12 for loss — and 3 interceptions as a senior last season.
Calloway picked up more than 30 scholarship offers during his recruitment and committed to the Razorbacks on National Signing Day.
“He has a supreme work ethic,” said Bishop Dunne defensive coordinator Delone Williams. “He works like he doesn’t have any ability.”
‘Thats just how he is’
Arkansas appears set with Ryan Pulley and Henre’ Toliver as its two starting cornerbacks entering 2017, but Calloway is talented enough that he likely will play right away, whether that is at corner or nickelback.
More than anything, though, Calloway is still trying to learn more about himself.
“What can I do to separate myself from other athletes?” Calloway said. “I’m still figuring myself out, and now I’m about to go into this world away from my family.”
He meditates. He watches YouTube videos of cornerbacks he admires to learn techniques. He’s even gotten on Hudl and studied film of Arkansas’ incoming wide receivers.
And, of course, he reads about those he admires.
Calloway discovered the Bruce Lee book when he was in the library recently. He picked it up, thumbed through it and figured there might be some valuable lessons in it.
“He’s a smart kid,” said Bishop Dunne coach Michael Johnson. “Very cerebral in his thinking process. He wants to have an edge. I think a lot of the stuff he does is because he wants to gain an edge and wants to be a difference-maker.
“So sometimes, he does stuff like read a Bruce Lee book. What he’s gonna gain out of that being a cornerback? I don’t know.
“But at the end of the day, that’s just how he is.”
Arkansas beat writer Jason Kersey traveled around the country visiting the Razorbacks’ 2017 signees for SEC Country’s “NextGen” series. Read his past 2017 NextGen stories at this link.