An All-SEC linebacker at Mississippi State, Jamar Chaney was the South's Defensive Player of the Game in the 2010 Senior Bowl, and felt he'd be chosen relatively high in that year's NFL Draft. The Eagles ended up selecting him in the seventh round.
"At first, I was a little upset," Chaney says. "I thought I was going to go way before that. But after talking to Coach (Andy) Reid and (general manager) Howie Roseman, I was very excited at the opportunity."
Shown the ropes by veterans such as Omar Gaither, Asante Samuel, and Quintin Mikell, Chaney still had to impress Reid and the assistant coaches to make the team. Which he did.
"I guess it was my knowledge of picking up the plays and going out there and actually executing them. I think that's the main thing," Chaney says. "They want to see the guys that can pick it up in Training Camp. They see how much information a guy can handle because they put in new stuff every day. You might learn something in the meeting at 12 o'clock and then at 3 o'clock practice, they expect you to go out there and execute it.
"So, I think that's what helped me out a lot, being able to learn our schemes. They found out I could handle the information and I could actually play fairly well."
Contributing mostly on special teams during his rookie season, Chaney was called upon to step in at middle linebacker during the December 12 game at Dallas after Stewart Bradley dislocated an elbow.
"We won the game (30-27)," Chaney says. "I went in and did a good job (with a team-high eight combined tackles) and they trusted me to start the following week against the Giants. I think I ended up with (a season-high) 16 tackles and a forced fumble (in the 38-31 win). That was a really big game, especially for my first start."
After making a second start the following game against the Minnesota Vikings and backing up Gaither in the regular-season finale, Chaney was back in the starting lineup when Philadelphia hosted Green Bay in the NFC Wild Card playoff game.
He recorded a game-high 11 tackles, nine solo, and forced a fumble in the 21-16 loss to the eventual-champion Packers.
"Just thinking about it, I didn't know that was going to happen. That's the way the NFL is," Chaney says. "If I would have went in and didn't do so well once Stewart got hurt, they probably would have called somebody or found someone on the street, and brought him in to try to shore up that spot. But when the opportunity presents itself, that was big for me, as well."
With the Eagles for three seasons from 2010-12, Chaney played in 44 games with 23 starts. He totaled 147 tackles, 109 solo, and three interceptions. He concluded his five-year NFL career by playing for the Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders.
Chaney may have hung up his helmet and shoulder pads, but he didn't leave the game. He returned to his alma mater, St. Lucie (Florida) West Centennial High School as the head coach. In two seasons on the sideline, he compiled an 11-8-1 record and guided the school to its first playoff game in seven years.
"Before I even made it to the NFL, I always knew I wanted to be a coach just because I love the game of football, but I also love helping kids," Chaney says. "So, I kind of put two and two together. I wanted to do something I love to do, which is football, and I wanted to do something that could help the individuals out as a coach. There's one report out there that says a coach impacts more people on a field than some people do in a lifetime. That was always a goal of mine."
Earlier this year, Chaney and his wife, Shamira, and their children: Rhaelyn and Eli; moved upstate and made their home in Gainesville, where he took a job as the Assistant Director of Player Personnel – High School Relations for the University of Florida's football team.
"I'm mainly in the recruiting department. I help evaluate guys and help maintain our relations with high school coaches throughout the country, make sure they have all the information they need on the University of Florida," Chaney says. "That's my main job. And also, I like sitting in with the defensive staff, just learning as much as I can from the defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham."