When a football team's record is 2-7-1, there usually are few season highlights. But the University of the District of Columbia squad can point proudly to the individual performance of one Charles Chisley.
Chisley, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound wide receiver for the Firebirds, finished the season with a record-breaking 42 pass receptions for 683 yards, an average of 16.2 yards per catch.
While these statistics are not particularly outstanding by some standards, there are several things to consider:
The Firebirds possessed practically no running game at all. They gained a total of only 613 yards for the season, and their leading rusher gained only 105 yards in 10 contests.
The team scored only 13 TDs in the season. Chisley collected five of these, four on pass receptions and the other on a 92-yard kickoff return.
Every UDC opponent double- and triple-teamed Chisley on every play.
The UDC team moved up in status this season from NCAA Division III to Division II.
Despite these factors, Chisley had his finest season as a collegian. His best performance came two weeks ago against Fayetteville State in the Capital Classic at RFK Stadium.
Chisley had a day receivers dream about. He grabbed a school-record: 10 passes for 165 yards. One diving, tumbling catch in that game was claimed to be of pro caliber by observers in the press box.
A product of Ballou High School in Southeast Washington, Chisley took a rather long road to UDC.
He was recruited by Texas Christian University and accepted a scholarship there as a hurdler on the track team. What he hoped would be a promising career turned into bitter disappointment.
"I went there with high hopes of getting an education and becoming a quality hurdler," recalled Chisley. "But the coach and I had a slight personality difference. I became disenchanted. I decided there was no point in me spending four years in a place where I was unhappy."
After pondering his future for a while, Chisley decided to enroll at UDC after a suggestion from an uncle.
He started playing UDC football as a defensive back, a position he had played in high school. A lack of production by the wide receivers on the team prompted the coaches to switch him to wide receiver. He responded with a six-reception, two-TD performance in his first start.
He finished that first season with 24 catches for 496 yards. He topped that last season with 29 receptions for 507 yards, earning him athlete-of-the-year honors at UDC.
Head coach Ted Vactor, the former Washington Redskin and Chicago Bear defensive back who is in his fourth year at UDC, has nothing but praise for his star athlete.
"Charles is not only an outstanding athlete, he is also an outstanding person and student," Vactor says. "He works hards and he shows tremendous leadership."
On Chisley's potential as a professional, Vactor says: "If he continues to develop and gets with the right system, he definitely has a shot."
Chisley credits his banner season to coaching from former Redskin receiver Frank Grant.
"Coach Grant has shown me a lot of things about how to beat double coverages and how to run different routes," Chisley said. "His knowledge of the game is tremendous."
When he isn't frightening defensive secondaries, Chisley is a standout hurdler and quarter-miler for the UDC track team.
He is majoring in communications and says he hopes to get into production one day.
"I have no delusions about the pros," he declared. "If I don't get a shot, I'll hopefully have my communication degree to fall back on."
Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys and several scouting services will be closely watching Chisley's every move next season.