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Pitt QB Chapman says he's matured after jail stint

| Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, 11:57 a.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Roosevelt High School quarterback Tra'von Chapman stands in the Rough Riders' locker room Dec. 4, 2012, in Kent, Ohio.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt quarterback Tra'Von Champman (left) watches practice next to Tom Savage (7) during spring practice March 7, 2013.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt quarterback Tra’Von Chapman, a four-star recruit, is yet another Panthers player who ran afoul of coach Paul Chryst’s and the school’s standards and wasn’t welcomed back to the team.

Pitt freshman quarterback Tra'von Chapman said he faced his three-day jail term without fear, but he admitted the sentence led him toward a period of self-reflection.

“It's not a place you want to be in,” Chapman said of the Portage County (Ohio) Jail. “There is a negative stigma about going to jail, but some good could come out of it.”

Chapman, 19, was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 40 hours of community service and was fined $200 after pleading guilty July 29 to a reduced charge of assaulting a former girlfriend April 26 in Kent. Also, he is not permitted to have any contact with the victim or her family and remains suspended from the football team.

Portage County Municipal Court Judge Barbara R. Oswick suspended 87 days of the sentence.

Four days after the assault, Chapman pleaded not guilty to one count of assault, a first-degree misdemeanor, and one count of unlawful restraint, a third-degree misdemeanor. Chapman “pulled the hair of (the alleged victim) and grabbed her around the neck,” according to the criminal complaint. He also is accused of preventing her from leaving the scene.

Chapman, who was released from jail Thursday, will undergo counseling. Pitt coach Paul Chryst, who opens training camp Tuesday, said Chapman's status with the team is under evaluation.

Contacted in Kent, Chapman admitted to making mistakes. His time in jail helped him grow up, he said.

“I've done a lot of maturing in the past couple months,” he said. “I am choosing my friends wisely, the places I go and the people I interact with. I came out stronger mentally than I was before.”

He said he prays every night while trying to ignore comments.

“I am keeping my head down and not worrying about what people are saying about me,” he said. “Because people do talk. I am leaving everything up to Him and it will be all right. That's how I felt going into court, and that's how I feel now.”

Chapman, who graduated early from Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent and enrolled at Pitt in January, said he is eager to return to the team.

He did not attend summer school or work out with his teammates, but he hopes to have his situation resolved by the time classes resume Aug. 26.

“Coach Chryst said he wants me back on the team and wants me around the guys as soon as possible,” he said. “I have faith that (athletic director) Mr. (Steve) Pederson has faith in me, and I feel like they will make a fair decision on the guidelines of my return.

“I'm not anxious. I'm not scared. I'm not nervous. I have nothing to fear. I feel like I'll be in school soon.”

Chapman said he had a chance to meet and talk with other inmates during his time in jail.

“They were OK,” he said. “They are normal people that happened to make mistakes.”

Roosevelt coach John Nemec is hopeful Chapman can put this part of his life behind him.

“He's a good guy, a good young man,” said Nemec, who added that Chapman babysat his grandchildren and the children of several coaches on his staff. “He wants to move on with his life in a positive manner.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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