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Sterling Heights

October 16, 2013

Sterling Heights football player up for scholar-athlete award at Wayne State

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Pictured is Wayne State University fullback Chet Privett (47). Privett, whose hometown is Sterling Heights, was selected as a semifinalist for the NFF (National Football Foundation) National Scholar-Athlete Award.

Former Warren De La Salle football player and current Wayne State University fullback Chet Privett has been selected as one of 24 Division II student-athletes — 170 candidates overall — as a semifinalist for the 2013 NFF (National Football Foundation) National Scholar-Athlete Awards, and the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation, according to a release.

According to the release, “each nominee must be in the final year of eligibility, have demonstrated strong leadership qualities on and off the field, have a GPA of 3.2 or better on a 4.0 scale and have outstanding football ability, among other qualifications.”

Privett, whose hometown is Sterling Heights, is a senior and co-captain on the Warriors’ squad, and his list of accomplishments includes being selected to the GLIAC (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) All-Academic Excellence Team three times, being named to the GLIAC honorable-mention team in 2011, and making 36 starts in his 39 games played at Wayne State.

“I was really excited,” Privett said. “It kind of puts things in perspective — that your hard work over the last four or five years is starting to pay off. It’s just an exciting time.”

Wayne State head football coach Paul Winters referred to Privett as someone with “leadership, toughness, intelligence (and) maturity.”

‘“It’s really impressive,” Winters said of Privett’s nominations. “The young man can excel on the field, be a captain on the football team, and also receive academic awards.”

Privett didn’t necessarily enter Wayne State with a lot of fan fare. He came to the program with just a “book scholarship,” and cited hard work as the key to coming as far as he has.

The opportunity to play college football is not one everybody gets, and it has allowed Privett to have some unique experiences during his time at Wayne State. Part of the experience has included playing in a Division II National Championship Game in 2011, and playing in the GLIAC, which Privett considers one of the top conferences at the Division II level.

“It’s a dream come true,” Privett said. “I knew coming in I had to work hard to prove myself, and that’s what I did. I’ve started the last four years. I think I’ve proven myself and shown my teammates you don’t need to be the biggest, strongest, fastest guy on the field. It’s about your hard work. I wouldn’t have it any other way, to come in (kind of) as the underdog on the team. I’ve worked my way to the top.”

A lot of athletes might say that the experience of playing alongside teammates is one of the best parts of suiting up for a team. Two of Privett’s teammates have passed away in recent years.

Serxho Guraleci passed away during a workout in January of this year, and Courtney “Cortez” Smith was the victim of gun violence in 2011.

Privett reflected on the passing of his teammates.

“We had the loss of two teammates, Cortez Smith and Serxho,” Privett said. “Serxho was my roommate last year when he played here. I was really close with him over the last four or five years. That was a huge thing for me. It set me back for a while. How close, and the relationship I had with him, was a setback. Now, I put it in perspective and work hard every day, knowing the kind of man he was and the kind of things he valued. I try to honor him every day in the things I do.

“He played with a ton of emotion and had a ton of emotion in school. He worked hard in everything he did. Me and him (kind of) fed off each other. I just try to continue on every single day with a positive attitude — always try to put a smile on my own face and everybody else’s face around me — working hard and staying enthusiastic. That’s the kind of guy he was, and that’s the kind of guy I try to be every single day.”

Privett has been accepted into the graduate program for occupational therapy. And while playing in the NFL may be a “possibility,” Privett has given some thought to life after college.

“I’ve been playing football since I was 7 years old,” he said. “I’ve loved it every single year, but I’m at the time of my life where, after this you either go to the NFL or you continue in your education and career path. I think it’s better suited for me to continue on in my career and my education. It would be a dream for any football player to go to the NFL, but for me, I’m more interested in continuing my education and (starting) the next chapter of my life.

“I’m really excited to finish my senior year and finish off strongly — finally get in the work field, enjoy life, start my own family one day and enjoy life after football. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

According to the release, the NFF Awards Committee will select up to 16 recipients, with the announcement of the results scheduled for Oct. 31. Each recipient receives an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and will be a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.