You've heard of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Well, let's call this the story of Dr. Chaz and Mr. Hine.
Mr. Hine is a football player for the University of South Florida. He is an offensive lineman, largely unnoticed even as he walks around campus. His greatness on the field is in details few see -- the movement of his hands and the placement of his feet. He is a soldier in an army of 11.
Dr. Chaz is not a doctor per se, but a performer. He sings opera and acts in musicals such as Les Miserables. He steals breath and attention with his stunning voice and undeniable charm. He is impossible to ignore when he opens his mouth or when he walks across a stage. He is a one-man show.
Mr. Hine and Dr. Chaz are, of course, the same person: USF senior center Chaz Hine. But unlike the Robert Louis Stevenson novel about a man who is both good and evil, the story of Dr. Chaz and Mr. Hine is about a man who is good and even better.
Chaz Hine's mom started both legends in this story. She wanted young Chaz to stay off the football field, and her 9-year-old son ignored her. She wanted Chaz to sing, and her son tried to ignore her, but failed.
"My mom forced me," he says.
So, at age 11, Chaz found himself standing on stage in a Santa suit. The outfit was an inferno, he remembers, causing sweat to stream down his face. Santa was anything but jolly as he fought to keep his hands clasped around his protruding belly. Chaz doesn't remember the song -- only that he never wanted to do that again.
But mom had already lost the football battle, and she would not be swayed. The next year, when Chaz was in sixth grade, she convinced her boy to try out for chorus.
"Chaz," she said, "there's going to be 50 girls and 3 boys. Isn't that a wonderful ratio?"
It sure was. Chaz ended up meeting his high school girlfriend in chorus. Her name is Molly and they are now engaged to be married. But Molly didn't love Chaz just for his voice. "She has a bit of a thing for football players," he says.
Hine wasn't much of a football player back then. He was not highly recruited, or recruited at all. He walked on at USF, which he chose mostly because it was local.
Turns out he not only had a body for the sport -- he grew to 6-4, 300 pounds -- he also had the mind for it. He could endure pain and absorb minutiae. He was as good a student on the field as he was in the classroom, where he would earn a 3.86 GPA. He could both read and block the toughest of Big East defenders. He became a starter, earned a scholarship, and moved from offensive guard to center.
But despite his sports glory, Mr. Hine was humble to the point of being self-effacing. He quietly became one of the most charitable athletes in college football, devoting numerous hours to helping the homeless in the Tampa area. Last week, he was named one of 16 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes and he is a finalist for the William V. Campbell award, given to the college football player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance. It's known as the "Academic Heisman." Past winners included Peyton Manning, Danny Wuerffel and (you guessed it) Tim Tebow.
Those guys were supernovas. Mr. Hine is happy to be just another Bull.
"I like to be able to help people," he says. "I want to be a servant leader."
Ah, but Dr. Chaz has dreams of fame. He wants to audition for American Idol, or one of the other TV reality competitions. He even has an idea of what he might sing in front of Simon Cowell: "To Where You Are," by Josh Groban.
"I was watching a major concert on television," Chaz says. "I made a comment to my little brother: 'Imagine if a massive crowd of people who paid to watch you sing gave you a standing ovation for a song.' Knowing people paid for tickets and at the same time they thought you did such an amazing job, that would be the highest on the emotional chart. That would be one of the best feelings in the world."
He and his bride-to-be, Molly, want to start "another Osmond family." And when he's asked to sing on the spot, which is "quite often," he's happy to oblige. He's unafraid to launch into song in front of teammates or even coach Skip Holtz. (The guy is 6-4, 300; who's gonna tell him to can it?) In one of his classes last semester, a professor asked for someone in the lecture hall to croon a little -- to show some courage. Chaz's hand shot up. Then he stood up and belted out an opera stanza.
"There was shock," he says, laughing. "I don't think the professor expected anyone to raise their hand in the first place."
The class was on leadership skills.
Chaz got an A.
So perhaps he'd sing the national anthem before one of his games?
Chaz considered it, but Mr. Hine stepped in.
"I thought I needed to have my mind focused on playing, instead of getting all nervous for a national anthem," he says. "It would affect my play because of the nerves you get before a really big crowd. I decided not to pursue it."
Four years after walking on, Hine is now a team captain.
So which is the real Chaz Hine? That's easy: both. Whether he's got his head down hiking the ball or raised in song, Chaz Hine's double life is twice as rich -- he's the consummate student-athlete. He wants to get his MBA, do a business internship, try to make an NFL team, and then give American Idol a shot.
But more than anything, he says he wants to be a good husband and someday, a good father. A lot of people say this, but you get the sense Chaz Hine means it.
At this point you're probably thinking what most people do when they meet Chaz Hine.
He's two good to be true.
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