UH pledge McElroy has chance to excel in two sports
Clear Creek's C.J. McElroy is well known for his electrifying exploits on the gridiron. But he's just as passionate about baseball.
So when it came time to pick a college, his choice was easy. Texas A&M, Boise State and Utah all came calling for his services, but as a football player only, so they were all quickly ruled out.
McElroy's a playmaking running back and a speedy centerfielder — not one or the other.
"I wanted to play baseball and football in college, so I tried to find the school that would let me, and U of H let me do both, so I picked U of H," he said.
Playing for the Cougars also meant he'd be close to his League City home, and McElroy's family is important to him.
A family affair
They're the ones who instilled in him his love for baseball.
McElroy's dad, Chuck McElroy, was drafted out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies. His grandfather played in the Negro Leagues and his uncle is former Houston Astros manager Cecil Cooper.
"My whole family plays baseball, so it's in my blood," C.J. said.
And football is his birthright.
Growing up in Texas in a family of athletes, C.J. strapped on pads almost as early as he picked up a glove. And each sport offers something that he can't - or isn't willing - to live without.
With football, it's the physicality and the atmosphere found only in a stadium, which fuels his breathtaking moves. With baseball, it's the mental challenge and his appreciation for family history.
But the younger McElroy's desire to play both boils down to his competitiveness, which needs as many outlets as possible.
That's why his father never tried to steer him toward just one - even though his first love is baseball.
"What I try to do is just be supportive because I don't want him wishing later on, when he turns 25, shoulda, coulda, woulda, and then it's too late," Chuck said.
"I want him to enjoy every moment, all this right now."
Of course, it's also dad's job to think about his son's future, since most teenagers aren't thinking too far ahead, and baseball appears to be the safer path. It's certainly the less violent option.
But that would go against Chuck's belief that when you think about injuries, that's when they happen.
Not looking too far ahead
He certainly wouldn't base a life-altering decision on the risk of injury.
"The biggest thing I try to stress with him is flexibility - stretching and making sure you take care of your body, eat right - and he just loves it," Chuck said.
Still, C.J. may have a decision to make.
With the knowledge and connections of a baseball family behind him, it stands to reason he has a good chance of going somewhere in the MLB draft.
If that happens, and either the round or the signing bonus is right, he could forego UH for the minor leagues. But Chuck, with all his experience, says he's still not sure his son will have that choice.
"Is he ready? We don't know that," Chuck said. "I don't know. I don't even know what the pros may think. Even though I played I don't talk to those guys as much because I try to stay behind the scenes a little bit.
"If it comes to that we'll have to sit down and think about it as a family, but we're just trying to get to that point."
Until then, Cougars fans can rest easy - and dream of Case Keenum getting C.J. the football any way possible.
"I'm very excited," C.J. said. "This is a great opportunity for me and my family and I'm glad to be a part of it."
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