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Despite playing limited snaps for Lafayette’s football team last season, Cheyton Pine has quickly become the Historic Triangle’s most sought after high school football recruit.
Standing an imposing 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Pine has received nine Division I scholarship offers from major football programs.
Of those nine offers, six are offers from Power-5 schools, which compete in one of the five major college football conferences: the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 Conference, Big 10 Conference, Pacific-12 Conference and Southeastern Conference.
While the Historic Triangle has its fair share of Division I athletes across multiple sports, the area is not known for pumping out major college football talent.
The last Historic Triangle football player to commit to play for an FBS program was Warhill’s Parker Osterloh in 2013. Osterloh held offers from two FBS schools — Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia — before signing to play for the Hokies.
As a junior, Pine already holds offers from Syracuse, the University of Virginia, Marshall, Buffalo, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Wake Forest and California.
Pine is also receiving interest from Virginia Tech, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Notre Dame, Minnesota and Kansas.
For Lafayette football coach Andy Linn, interacting with so many high-profile college football programs has been a new experience.
“Since I’ve been here, this is quite unique. We haven’t had half these schools around here,” he said.
“It’s different simply because we don’t have a lot of big recruits. You either run a 4.5 or lower 40-yard dash or you’re 6-foot-4 and you get recruited. We just happen to have a 6-foot-4 recruit, so we have a lot of people out here recruiting.”
One of the biggest reasons Pine is receiving attention as a prospect is his physical stature. His combination of height, weight and speed makes him desirable for the outside linebacker position, or potentially defensive end, at the next level.
Linn also attributed Pine’s surge in recruitment to modern technology and being able to distribute film to schools and scouts much easier.
Scouts interested in finding information can search his name in Google and scouting profiles from 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN would be among the top results.
Despite entering Lafayette’s football program as a 6-foot-1, 180-pound freshman, Pine said he never thought he would be coveted by this many college football programs. For Pine, receiving looks from so many colleges has been a dream come true.
“Having scholarships from Division I football has been my number one dream since I was younger,” Pine said. “Now that it’s here, it’s unbelievable to be one of the chosen ones out of Virginia or even Williamsburg.”
What makes Pine’s recruitment even more unique is his limited contribution to Lafayette’s football team last season.
For most of the regular season, Pine was a backup quarterback and third-down defensive specialist. Pine only saw his role increase after starting quarterback Brendan McGinty was sidelined because of injury during the Rams’ run in the postseason, where they eventually lost to Magna Vista in the Virginia High School League 3A state championship game.
“When he played, he was highly effective,” Linn said of Pine, who recorded 40 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks, an interception and a touchdown for Lafayette last season.
The limited tape on Pine has made him an intriguing prospect for college coaches and scouts, who have asked Pine to camp on their respective campuses so they can conduct a better evaluation of him as a player.
Pine previously camped at Toledo and Old Dominion when his recruitment was in its early phases. As his recruitment has picked up steam, so have his visits.
He visited Virginia Tech over the weekend to take in spring game festivities and, according to Linn, has plans to visit UNC and N.C. State as well.
However, with school still in session, college scouts and coaches have made a point to visit Pine at Lafayette to get some one-on-one time with Williamsburg’s prized recruit.
“Most of the schools are coming to my school, instead of the other way around,” Pine joked. “I didn’t know that I would be, at this point in my life as a junior, getting nine to 15 offers in a junior year, which is one of the best accomplishments I’ve ever had.”
Neither Linn nor Pine expects his recruitment to slow down anytime soon. With a full senior season of football left for Pine, schools will continue vying for his services.
With so much attention given to the Lafayette linebacker, Pine said this offseason will carry some added importance, not only to help the Rams return to the VHSL state championship game, but to also continue improving his stock as a football prospect.
“Preparation for this year has been harder than ever,” he said. “I’ve been hitting the weight room hard. I’ve been going to the WISC after every practice and running track, trying to get faster. I’m trying to gain weight, because I know I’ll have to get bigger and stronger if I want to play as a freshman.”
Pine, who will be a starting outside linebacker and quarterback for Lafayette in the fall, said he is looking forward to his senior season and letting the recruiting process unfold, choosing not to name a leader this early in his recruitment.
“I’m just trying to go through my options and live to the fullest with the opportunity I was given,” Pine said. “I’ll just keep waiting until next season to make my decision.”