MIAMI, Fla. – Miami (Fla.) Northwestern defensive tackle Todd Chandler can fill up a lot of things. The 6-foot-1 291 pound sophomore can fill out a football jersey, he can fill up a running lanes for hopeful running backs and his personality can fill up a courtyard.
To those in South Florida, the 2010 prospect is not a new name. Amid the four and five-star prospects that filled up the Miami Northwestern roster in 2007, the youngster more than held his own and was a big part of the Bulls' success as a sophomore starter.
As the 2008 season approaches, Chandler will be stepping in as one of the leaders on his team rather than the sidekick to five-star defense tackle Marcus Forston.
"I feel kind of good stepping in playing a leader role because they taught it to me, now it's my turn to teach it to the younger guys," Chandler said. "I already made my name, I just gotta help them make their name now. It's gonna be more of the Northwestern show instead of the Todd Chandler show."
Though he feels comfortable with the spotlight on him, Chandler also realizes that things will be much tougher without Fortson by his side.
"It's gonna be kind of tough because the kind of relationship that me and Marcus had was like I know what he's gonna do and he knows what I'm gonna do," he said. "I know he's gonna come hard and I just gotta build that camaraderie with the newer players that are coming in."
It didn't take Chandler long to realize that his teammates would be looking to him as a leader on the 2008 version of Northwestern despite his status as a rising junior.
"I was surprised when I came in and everybody was standing around looking at me like, 'Todd what are we gonna do?'," he said. "It's easy being a leader. You just can't overstep your boundaries. You gotta give out respect if you're gonna get respect."
As far as leaders go, Chandler clearly has his teammates' respect but don't expect him to lead without a smile. The big lineman loves to have fun and there's not a more enjoyable place for him than the football field.
"The field is fun," he said. "Monday through Friday, practice, that's when the pain comes through. That's when it's time to get tough. When you go in the game, that's the glory. You should have fun. That's how you win games."
Despite Chandler's big personality, when it's game time, his mouth isn't nearly as active as his feet or his body. He lets his play talk for him.
"I just go out there and handle business," he said. "No talk, no showing off. That's one thing I really don't do. I make a tackle I may get up and clap my hands but I aint no show off."
As active and athletic as he is on the football field, Chandler is likely to have an even busier time off the field once schools are allowed to begin officially offering scholarships. Though intuitively it would seem that the Hurricanes will be the school to beat for his services, Chandler lists Florida as a favorite right along with Miami.
"I'm looking at all options," he explained. "I love the Gators but I love UM too. I love a lot of football colleges right now, but those are my top choices, UM and the Gators. I'm thinking about FIU, Kentucky, LSU, all of them. So when it comes down to that, I'm open."