Note: The following appears in the Virginia gameday football program.
If it has ever been in the cards for a native Texan to become a Clemson Tiger, it was in the cards for J.C. Chalk, a senior tight end from Argyle, Texas.
Chalk is the grandson of the legendary Gene Stallings, who is most famous for winning the 1992 national championship as Alabama’s head coach, in addition to other successful stints as both a head coach and an assistant coach at the college and professional ranks.
Dabo Swinney played under Stallings at Alabama, and Danny Pearman, the Tigers’ special teams coordinator and tight ends coach, was on Stallings’ Crimson Tide coaching staff for several years. Those connections effectively made Chalk a Tiger in the making while he starred at Argyle High School. In the end, his decision to join the Clemson program was a fairly easy one.
“There was a comfort level there because my family knew Coach Swinney and Coach Pearman beforehand, so that was a factor,” said Chalk of committing to Clemson. “The program itself and how Coach Swinney runs it drew me here.”
Pearman recruited Chalk while the tight end was a standout performer for the powerhouse Argyle Eagles program. Chalk’s high school tenure was synonymous with winning, as he competed in state championships in both football and basketball, and that carried over into his college playing days.
Having been a part of two national championship-winning teams since joining the Clemson program in 2016, Chalk is proud of the winning football culture to which he has contributed, dating all the way back to his youth football days.
“I’ve been fortunate to win a championship at every level of football I’ve played. I was able to do that at the Pee Wee level. In middle school, I was able to win district, and in high school, I was able to win state. I’ve also been a part of two national championship teams in college, so it’s been a fun football journey.”
That pride in winning championships directly correlates to Chalk’s winning attitude as it pertains to working as hard as he can on each and every play. Known for his impressive blocking acumen and high-motor approach to making an impact on the gridiron, Chalk plays the way he does because of the sage advice Stallings has instilled in him since Chalk first donned a helmet and pads.
“One of the big things he’s always told me since I started playing is that it’s not about the number of plays you’re a part of but how you play them. If you play those snaps as hard as you can, you’ll be noticed by the coaches and might earn a bigger role.”
Chalk is a team player in every sense of the term, and his role as a Tiger tight end has primarily encompassed blocking for his teammates and other vital elements of the game that do not show up on stat sheets.
For Chalk, whose decorated high school career featured multiple all-district selections, that perfectly aligns with his attitude toward football, as he is much more concerned with contributing to a winning culture than he is with amassing eye-popping numbers.
“Stats aren’t necessarily important to me. I just want to do anything for the team that we need … if it’s blocking every play or catching one or two passes. I do whatever I can to get a win.”
After experiencing plenty of victories in high school, Chalk experienced a national championship season early in his Clemson tenure, as the Tigers won the national title during his 2016 redshirt season. From 2017-19, Chalk made the most of his playing time, contributing the occasional downfield gain and blocking to the best of his ability at all times. Chalk contributed to the Tigers’ efforts as they won another national title in the 2018 season, and he was an integral member of the Clemson offense in 2019.
“Each week, I take the most pride in knowing that whatever my role was helped us win the game. Doing my job and being able to say that I gave it a hundred percent and helped the team win is what’s most important to me.”
All of the hard work and dedication Chalk has dedicated to the program since 2016 culminated in the tight end recording his first touchdown catch as a Tiger in the season-opening game of the 2020 campaign. Hauling in a 12-yard touchdown reception at Wake Forest, Chalk reached pay dirt for the first time in a Clemson uniform. Although scoring a touchdown is an accomplishment Chalk does not take for granted, his ultimate goal is to win another national championship alongside the teammates whom Chalk considers nothing short of inspirational.
“The dedication of the players and the effort and work they put into football are truly amazing. Their dedication to the game motivates me, and getting to watch these guys work, day in and day out, is awesome.”
A senior agribusiness major, Chalk plans to pursue a career in agriculture once his football career is over. An avid outdoorsman, he spent quality time on Stallings’ farm while growing up in Texas, making a career in agricultural sales or property management a worthwhile pursuit Chalk plans to take on.
In the meantime, he aims to exhaust every moment and take advantage of every opportunity presented by his senior season so that he leaves behind no regrets. Chalk also has aspirations of fulfilling his lifelong dream of suiting up in the NFL. Most of all, he simply wants to continue winning and enjoy doing so while he still can.
Chalk takes after his grandfather and follows in his footsteps with every passing victory, and the contributions he has made to Clemson’s winning culture in recent seasons are enough to solidify his reputation as a certified winner.