February 6, 2013

Overton keeps it close to home

Just a month ago, it would have been understandable if Chris Overton felt like an odd man out. After amassing 2,142 all-purpose yards throughout his career at Cleveland Glenville high school, the wide receiver drew little interest from big time college football programs, and was set to commit to St. Francis (Pa.) of the Northeast Conference.

On Tuesday's National Signing Day, however, Overton felt like a wanted man.

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound wideout signed to play for Kent State and first-year Golden Flashes head coach Paul Haynes, but not before receiving interest from at least one BCS program. Yielding offers from both the Naval and Air Force Academies, Overton received a call on Monday night from Georgia Tech, who asked the two-star prospect to hold off on signing until the Yellow Jackets class shook out.

"They called last night and they were close to offering Chris and actually wanted us to wait a few days to see how it goes," Tony Overton, Chris' father and Glenville's offensive coordinator, said. "They had a kid that maybe wasn't going to sign today, they wanted us to wait until after."

Ultimately, the Overtons didn't feel like playing the waiting game and felt most comfortable with Chris playing for Haynes in Cleveland's backyard. After receiving little interest from former Kent State coach Darrell Hazell, it was Haynes who offered Overton, who he's known since he was an assistant at Ohio State, where he coached some of Tony's former players like Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr..

"It was pretty stressful because I really hadn't heard from Kent State a lot and I was wondering why, and As soon as Coach Haynes came in, I instantly got interest from them and I was very excited," Chris said. "My dad's known him for a really long time and had a good relationship with him."

Chris admitted that the recent success of Kent State, who finished the 2012 season with an 11-3 record, also played a role in his decision to play for the Flashes. KSU was just one MAC Championship Game win away from playing in a BCS bowl game, but ultimately ended its season by losing to Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

"That's one of the reasons I went there," Chris said. "I've seen the program's rising and I want to be a part of that."

Set to arrive in Kent in June for the Summer semester, Overton said that the remainder of his senior year of high school will be spent on attempting to win a state championship in track for the Tarblooders. A 4.0 student, Chris drew praise from his father not only for what he's accomplished as an athlete, but a person as well.

"We were all happy with that decision," Tony said. "He's worked extremely hard his whole life, on and off the field. Academically, I'm probably more proud of him. He had offers from the Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, and that means a lot. For him to finally sign his letter, and know that the hard work has paid off and he's going to be able to play for a Division-I school- and not only just that but to be at home, to represent Kent State, in our backyard, that's very important."

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