So they named him Chase Onassis Minnifield: after Chase Bank, the 20th century shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and, of course, Minnifield, a name featured on the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade team that they “figure doesn’t hurt.”
“I was always held to a high standard,” said Chase, 24.
He hasn’t disappointed, developing into a five-star recruit in high school and a two-time all-ACC player at Virginia. After missing nearly two full years of football because of a microfracture surgery that left him undrafted in 2012 and a torn anterior cruciate ligament at the end of minicamp last year, he’s making a name for himself as one of the surprise standouts of Redskins training camp.
“He can definitely play. Ain’t no doubt about that,” Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “Press, ball skills, he’s tough as [nails]. He’s just a good football player, man. Son of a football player and just a good football player.”
Despite his father’s amenability to other career paths, there was never much doubt that “football player” would describe him for a long time.
“He was one of those type of kids: He wasn’t going to be able to live with himself if he didn’t play football,” said Frank, who said he coached his son until college.
Frank took Chase to his games in Cleveland, where he brought him onto the field and into the locker room, though his son says he doesn’t remember much from those trips.
Chase made sure no one could forget his career at Henry Clay High in Lexington, Ky. There, Minnifield played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and even kicker (“oh yeah, he can kick the ball,” Frank said) in addition to defensive back and emerged as one of the top players in the state his junior year.
“Chase Manhattan,” as his U-Va. teammates called him, is generously listed at 6 feet, 186 pounds, and Frank said his son “didn’t exhibit anything real special” in terms of size or speed in his high school career. But years spent around the highest levels of the game under his father’s tutelage gave Chase an uncommon football acumen.
“I assumed that the reason why he was so much more productive than everybody else was because he knew so much more about it than everybody else,” Frank said. “He was pretty well-calibrated early on about what you were trying to do on the football field.”
“I’m a student. I love to learn and just soak in information from everybody,” Chase said.
“I’ve been around the game my whole life, watched a lot of stuff, talked to a lot of players, former football players. I’ve always loved the game. I think that’s what it is: me always being around it and watching it on TV, going to games and things like that.”