Position Switch Keeps Charneski's Dream Alive

Photos courtesy Hunter Charneski

Green Bay native Hunter Charneski has gone from standout defensive lineman at Division II Grand Valley State to intriguing fullback prospect.

Grand Valley State's pro day was all about center Matt Armstrong.

The surprise was fullback Hunter Charneski.

Literally.

Charneski is a native of Green Bay and went to high school at Green Bay Notre Dame, just a quick trip down Ridge Road from Lambeau Field. Like any football-playing boy in Green Bay, his dream was to play in the NFL. That dream remained rooted in Charneski's heart at Grand Valley State, even if almost nobody else knew about it.

"Of course it was, absolutely," Charneski said. "I didn't really say much to anybody about it. I think your dreams become less and less special the more you advertise them, so I kept that to myself, for the most part. A lot of my teammates didn't even know I was doing Grand Valley's pro day until I showed up."

Charneski started for two-and-a-half seasons as a 260-pound defensive lineman. After Grand Valley lost in the Division II semifinals, Charneski's life was at a crossroads. Was it time to hang up his football cleats for good? Or was it time for a position to change?

Not ready to give up on his NFL dream just yet, Charneski began training to play fullback.

"It was my best position in high school; it was where I got most of my D-I looks and offers," he said. "I didn't want to wonder, ‘What if?' five or 10 years down the road."

Charneski began working out at D1 Sports Training, with the Green Bay facility co-owned by former Packers running back Ahman Green. Charneski has tested for scouts at pro days at Eastern Michigan and Grand Valley State, plus performed at one of the NFL's regional combines in Indianapolis.

Athletically, Charneski measures up. He was timed between 4.7 and 4.8 seconds in his 40-yard dashes, with a 31-inch vertical jump and 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press. There were three fullbacks invited to the Scouting Combine, though Oklahoma's Trey Millard was sidelined after a season-ending knee injury. LSU's J.C. Copeland ran in 4.95 with a 28.5-inch vertical and 23 reps on the bench. Stanford's Ryan Hewitt ran in 4.87 with a 33-inch vertical; he did not test on the bench.

More importantly, the drill work has gone well.

"It's gotten better and better and better," Charneski said. "I caught the most balls out of anybody at that group at Eastern, so I thought that made a point. (At Grand Valley), I think I put on a clinic, to be honest with you. I was snagging balls left and right. I caught all but one and there were a few times when the scouts had me split out and running 5-yard hitches as if I were a wideout."

He's talked to scouts from Green Bay, Atlanta, Carolina, Cincinnati, Detroit, the Giants and Oakland. Green has gotten Charneski in touch with Eliot Wolf, the Packers' director of pro personnel.

"You only need one team to like you," Charneski said. "Whether that's here in Green Bay, that'd be awesome, or somewhere else. ... You know, I tell this to everybody: I'm not the most talented guy around but I know how to work. I think if I get into a camp somewhere, teams will see how I work and how I go about my day-to-day activities and they're not going to want to get rid of me."

As a small-school prospect making a position change, Charneski certainly isn't expecting to be drafted. And it's quite possible he'll have to earn his way onto an offseason roster as a tryout player at a team's rookie minicamp.

All he wants is that chance to make his dream come true.

"I'll tell you a little story," he said. "I lost my father when I was 14 — brain cancer took him — and he really wanted me to chase whatever dream I had. I told him that I would do everything I can that, some way or the other, that I would make it to that point of getting that phone call (from a team). It would mean the world to me. I couldn't even tell you. I'll probably be a mess, honestly, just tears of joy. But, if anything, it's just the beginning. Just like RGIII said, just because you made it to the NFL, it doesn't mean you've made it in the NFL. If I get that call, what really changes? I have to go back to work."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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