GREENWOOD, S.C. – Anthony Chalmers is grateful for his son’s second chance.
In March, Kaleb Chalmers was arrested for simple possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of a schedule II controlled substance. Just days after the arrest, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney dismissed the cornerback, who was redshirting, from the team.
Fast-forward nine months.
Kaleb Chalmers was back at Greenwood (S.C.) High School on Wednesday, ready to sign a national letter of intent to play for South Carolina. The former 3-star recruit had a second chance to play big-time college football in his home state.
“It’s a very good feeling,” Anthony Chalmers said. “We’re really thankful to God, for (Kaleb) having this opportunity, and thankful for the coaches up there at Carolina, giving him a chance to be closer to home and play in front of family and in front of friends, so we’re looking forward to this upcoming season.”
Greenwood coach Dan Pippin said he fully supported his former star cornerback.
“I know that’s something he would say to you,” Pippin said, speaking to the arrest. “It was a mistake.
“That’s what I told everybody when we talked about it. I told everybody I would put my name on this kid. I don’t know how much you can guarantee anything anymore, with anybody, but he’s as big a guarantee kid that I’ve had. I’m behind him 100 percent. So is everybody here.”
Support from Kaleb Chalmers, family
The feeling is mutual. Kaleb Chalmers and his parents, Anthony in particular, have had Pippin’s back since he arrived at Greenwood in 2014. That’s when Pippin was hired from North Augusta, to take over Greenwood, one of the most tradition-rich programs in the state.
Pippin and Kaleb Chalmer’s time together was short-lived. It was his senior year, and just a couple games in, he injured his knee, which sidelined him for most of the season. Even though Kaleb Chalmers was committed to Clemson and was on track to enroll the following January, not returning to the field that season was never an option.
“That’s why it was such a big deal when he got hurt and played in his senior year,” Pippin said. “That was something that – I’ll have kids that have committed to a big school and they’re not going to keep putting forth the effort. That wasn’t Kaleb now. He was a leader of the team, played that role during the season, played in the Shrine Bowl. That was something that he didn’t have to do.”
Pippin added: “He’s that kid you want in your program. I don’t think you can say more (than), a new (coach) comes into Greenwood that used to coach against him, he plays two games, misses seven, then comes back and plays.”
Support from the Chalmers family didn’t end when Kaleb left for Clemson. In 2015, while Kaleb was taking a redshirt year, Greenwood finished 4-7.
“Mr. Chalmers could have turned his back on us … he would text me all the time,” Pippin said. “He would talk us up in the community, ‘These guys know what they’re doing.’
“And that was before anything happened. It was the least I could do to make some phone calls.”
It certainly helped that Kaleb Chalmers reminded college coaches during his season at Northwest Mississippi Community College that he was indeed worth the risk. South Carolina and Ole Miss were the finalists when his decision was announced on junior college national signing day.
For the Chalmers family, last Wednesday was more about thanks, rather than ill will.
“We were very appreciative for everything Clemson did for us,” Anthony Chalmers said. “Coach (Dabo) Swinney, those guys are great guys. We appreciate everything they’ve done for us.”
In 11 months, Kaleb will have a chance to remind Swinney and the Tigers what they once had.