The Wolverines’ bruiser of a tailback Nathan Callaway may not ever put on the green of Biggs High School anymore, but this fall he’ll be throwing on a new Green—the uniform of the Greenville College football team.
Callaway will head to Illinois this fall after signing a National Letter of Intent with Greenville College on April 17 for a four-year academic scholarship.
Since Greenville is an NCAA Division III program, they cannot award athletics scholarships. But that certainly didn’t stop the Panthers’ coaching staff from pursuing Callaway. How could they not?
Callaway’s dominance on both sides of the ball led the Wolverines to their first winning record since 2005 at 10-2. With the ball in his hands, Callaway picked up almost 1,500 yards and punished just about every defender that dared to stand in his way, which Wolverines’ head coach Ron Carr noted as one of his most impressive qualities.
"People like to say he runs angry and he carried people a lot of the time,” said Carr. “He was rarely tackled for no gain."
And a dominant runner is exactly what the Panthers wanted. Greenville has been known to favor the run game, just a little.
"They want me as their powerhouse back," Callaway said. "They're about 70 percent run and 30 percent pass.”
Last season, out of the 496.6 yards that Greenville averaged per game, 340 of those yards were on the ground.
Running the ball seems to work just fine for the Panthers. Greenville finished the 2013-14 season with an overall record of 9-2. The Panthers tore through the first eight games of the regular season undefeated before narrowly losing to St. Scholastica in their final regular season game. The Panthers still made their way to the Victory Bowl—the National Christian College Athletic Association’s (NCCAA) championship game—but Asuza Pacific shut them down, 67-0.
Carr added that Callaway was also a great lead blocker, which will benefit him extremely well since Greenville plans to use the 6-foot, 210-pounder at the fullback position.
Carr isn’t the only one to think that Greenville’s program will suit Callaway just fine.
Greenville’s Asst. Head Coach Jeff DiSandro said he’s “very excited Nathan chose to be a part of the EMAP family. [Callaway] is a great fit for this campus and our program.”
“The staff feels he is a tremendous talent at running back and we think he’ll do some great things here at Greenville,” DiSandro said. “He is big, fast, and athletic.”
Despite the 2,000 miles between Biggs and Greenville, Callaway should adapt just fine. Callaway visited Greenville’s campus earlier this month for a recruiting visit.
"It's basically like another Gridley, just a lot more spread out,” Callaway said. “There's a lot of open fields there.”
“The campus is really nice,” he said. “It's all brick so it has a real old-school feel to it, and there's wildlife walking around campus."
Callaway said there were a few schools that showed interest, but Greenville was the one that reached out to him most after checking out his profile on the recruiting website NCSAsports.org. Callaway said he also noticed the bond shared between the Greenville players while visiting and that’s something that he wanted to be a part of.
Aside from being named to the Gridley Herald’s All-Local team during his senior year, Callaway was selected as first-team All-Mountain Valley League running back, MVL Defensive Player of the Year, Biggs’ Most Valuable Offensive Player, and he earned a spot on the Appeal-Democrat’s All-Area team.
Callaway was also named Athlete of the Week by several media outlets, including the Gridley Herald, throughout his senior season. He will play for the South in the 37th annual Lions All-Star Football Game this summer.
Callaway intends on majoring in criminal justice at Greenville College.