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posted on 8/9/11
Cody and Chad Sprayberry: A Dynamic Duo
Ask either of the brothers who the better football player is, and they'll take the chance to praise each other. Selfless, dedicated, and intelligent, Cody and Chad Sprayberry stand out at Saint Joseph's College for all the right reasons. Playing together on the football team while excelling in the classroom, the young men have taken a humble approach to their college careers. They've done so with the support of their family, religion, and most of all, each other.
Following high school, Chad, a junior defensive lineman, attended Western Illinois University (WIU) and played football there for two years. Things weren't working out the way he'd hoped, and it was around this time that SJC started recruiting Cody, who was still in high school. Chad made the switch to SJC, and he quickly realized he made the right decision.
"My time at SJC has been great. I've met a lot of wonderful people, and since transferring from Western Illinois, my grades have skyrocketed. My academic success has become very important to me," said Chad. "Even though SJC is small, it's really a tight-knit family that cares about each other and wants you to succeed."
Chad and Cody, a sophomore linebacker, had discussed attending the same college in high school, although they weren't sure if it would actually happen. Chad received offers from the United States Military Academy and the Air Force Academy, and the brothers often talked about how great it would be to play at one of those big schools together. But when the last week of National Signing Day arrived, Chad committed to WIU.
"I talked to Cody about the possibility of playing college football together on the same side of the ball, and we agreed that it would be an amazing experience," said Chad.
Cody didn't take as much time deciding that SJC was the place for him. He had offers to play football at other schools, but he had his sights set on Rensselaer.
"When I went to SJC for my first campus visit, I loved the small town atmosphere and what I saw and heard of the football program. It was clear that SJC was the place for me."
Although they are both tremendous athletes, there were times when it seemed neither of the young men would be able to handle the physical stress required to play football. Cody suffered some serious medical problems when he was in high school, most notably Stevens - Johnson syndrome, which caused him to randomly succumb to seizures. Chad was born deaf, requiring him to learn sign language and attend special education classes.
"We've never allowed setbacks to prevent us from accomplishing our goals," said Chad. "We know we can accomplish anything if we put our minds to it."
If it seems like the two live in constant harmony together, they will assure you it's not always the case.
"People often ask why we choose to room together and spend so much time together when we're away from home, and I've always found that to be silly," said Cody. "Sure, we're brothers and we fight sometimes, but we get over it. I grew up with two brothers and a sister, and having a big family gave me a big heart. Home truly is where the heart is."
In their time at SJC, Cody and Chad have found a common role model who has driven them to success in all aspects of their lives: Professor of Biology Dr. Neal Haskell, who was a key witness in the Casey Anthony trial. Haskell has served as a mentor and role model to the Sprayberrys, both of whom are working for him this summer. Haskell and his son, Joel, have both had a tremendous influence on their work ethic and prospective career paths. Although Cody and Chad would both like to play professional football, they know what their career of choice is if football doesn't pan out.
"When I first transferred to SJC, I was unsure of what direction to take with my studies," said Chad. I ended up taking "Intro to Forensic Science" and I was immediately hooked. Dr. Haskell, on whom the television show CSI: Las Vegas character Gil Grissom is based, has become one of the biggest mentors in my life. He and Joel have gotten me to understand the power of learning and working hard to achieve my goals."
"Dr. Haskell is a great man," added Cody. "He has been like a second father to me and Chad, and I plan on furthering my education with him in the future. I've never met such a hard-working family as the Haskells."
The Sprayberrys have managed to maintain the same level of focus and intensity they have in the classroom on the football field, and they've already received numerous accolades. Cody is a key contributor on the special teams unit and made 24 tackles in the last two games of the 2010 season. Chad played in all 10 games last season and was named Academic All-GLFC.
The brothers certainly aren't lacking in self-motivation, but they waste no time acknowledging the influence their parents have had on them.
"We couldn't have asked for a better mom and dad," said Cody and Chad. "They always pushed us to be the best people we could be and instilled in us the determination to be successful."
Relying on each other to succeed and overcome hardships, Cody and Chad continue to beat the odds. Their dedication to SJC, the football team, and each other is remarkable and admirable, as they are the true embodiment of a loving family. That they've allowed that love to permeate through the game of football and their academics is a testament to their character, full of fight and Puma Pride.
Saint Joseph's College, named a "character-building college" by the Templeton Foundation and a "best Midwestern college" by the Princeton Review, is a four-year, Catholic college offering 25 majors, 4 group majors, 32 minors, and 9 pre-professional programs, complemented by the nationally acclaimed Core Program. Founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, SJC is located in Rensselaer, Indiana, approximately 90 minutes from both Chicago and Indianapolis, on a park-like campus of 180 acres and has an enrollment of more than 1,000 students.
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