Football: Max Chapman and his beard step up on the defensive line


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior defensive lineman Max Chapman jumps at a pass during Northwestern’s game against Iowa last Saturday. The junior intimidates offensive linemen with a beard he’s been growing since July 4.

Rohan Nadkarni, Reporter


The first thing you notice when you look at Max Chapman is his beard.

In its full, sweaty, post-practice glory, Chapman’s beard is the platonic ideal of manliness. It hangs off the junior defensive lineman’s face and commands respect, demanding you stand up straight and be on your best behavior. The beard also begs the question: How long did it take to grow that thing?

“This beard started on the Fourth of July, so it’s America’s beard,” Chapman proudly proclaims. “I was at a rib fest, and a beard trimmer messed up my old beard. I shaved it off, and this one has been growing ever since.”

Six-plus months of dedication to anything — a diet, a significant other, let alone something growing on your face — is a difficult task for many college students. But the dedication to his mane pales in comparison to the dedication Chapman makes to his teammates, at least according to his head coach.

“He’s our Energizer Bunny, man,” Pat Fitzgerald said. “He plays with everything he’s got in his heart and soul. He usually gets that defensive line going. He plays just really, really hard.”

Chapman’s contribution to Northwestern’s 2014 campaign may not show up on the stat sheet, but it does not go unnoticed. His ability to play any position along the defensive line vaulted him into a spot in the unit’s rotation. And although Chapman may not be one of the sack artists making the big play on third down, his versatility and tenacity helped anchor arguably the best position group on the team.

For Chapman, being the “Energizer Bunny” of that group is the ultimate compliment.

“I always like to bring energy and keep the guys going,” Chapman said. “We all really feed off of each other. We like to pride ourselves on being hard-working. I hope I can bring the juice.”

The attitude that drives Chapman, the motivation that allows him to give 100 percent on every play, comes from his faith. Fitzgerald described Chapman’s commitment to religion as “special.”

“He came to me before the season and asked if there’s any way we can have Father come say Mass on Fridays before home games,” Fitzgerald explained. “He walks the talk. He’s the real deal. And that’s the way he plays.”

Chapman’s faith is clearly something he takes quite seriously, and it extends to the football field. It starts at his locker, where he has “All for Jesus” written to remind himself of his biggest motivation. On the field, everything he offers stems from an unwavering promise to his faith.

“Ever since coming to college, I’ve really grown in my faith, and that has honestly been fueling my passion for football,” Chapman said. “I really try to turn every practice into a prayer, every play into prayer. I’m trying to offer up what I’m doing as a prayer to God and it’s helping me give better effort, because I’m not going to say ‘God, this is for you’ and then not give my best effort.”

Chapman’s efforts stretch off the football field into the community. Through NU’s community service office, Chapman and some of his teammates became involved in ROARR, a program to help eradicate bullying in local schools. Through his faith, Chapman has also taken it upon himself to help with the homeless in Evanston.

On Saturdays, it’s still hard to imagine opposing offensive linemen doing more than staring right into Chapman’s beard. After all, it’s biblical in size, and for all we know, in strength as well. But once you get past the long, flowing locks draped from Chapman’s face you instantly realize, there is much more beneath the surface.

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