Jan Vasser saw a glimpse of her son Chase’s football potential when he was just 8 years old. Playing in the West Hall feeder system, the future Chestatee High standout made a play she’ll never forget.
She witnessed a pint-sized defender go airborne, flying parallel to the ground and tackling the opposing team’s ball carrier around the waist. "I turned and said ‘who made that tackle," she said. "And my husband said, ‘that was Chase.’"
That same fearless attitude is the way Vasser’s approached the game all his life.
Fast forward 10 years, and this four-year starter for the War Eagles is ready to embark on his college career after signing his national letter of intent Wednesday to play next year at the University of Georgia. Now finished with classes at Chestatee, one of Vasser’s goals for the spring is to get add 10-20 pounds to his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame with three hours workouts each day at the Fitness Zone.
He also goes to Athens about three times each week to study the Bulldogs’ playbook and see his future teammates.
"It’s a relief to finally sign my letter of intent," Vasser said. "It just shows how all of my hard work has paid off."
The entire Vasser family is in the process now of stockpiling everything red and black to show support for their son. Chase comes from an extended family full of Georgia graduates. Chase’s immediate family is getting ready to start the tailgating tradition in Athens next year and hoping to see Chase on the field at linebacker for the Bulldogs.
"I feel blessed to have him going to play at Georgia," his mother added. "We know the Georgia coaching staff has its priorities in order."
"I’m extremely proud of my brother," said Chase’s older brother, Lane. "I love him very much."
Vasser, who also held offers to play at Kentucky and Virginia Tech, knew early in his senior season that he wanted to play at Georgia. He also knew that Georgia only planned to sign two linebackers in its 2009 class.
When Emmanuel County Institute linebacker Dexter Moody took the first of those linebacker spots off the table last fall, Vasser wasted little time turning his official offer into a verbal commitment. For the record, Georgia ended up signing three linebackers with the addition of Valdosta High’s Michael Gilliard.
Vasser made a mark for himself early in his high school career. He was an All-State selection as a sophomore with 104 tackles, 26 tackles for a loss and nine sacks. Those stats re-wrote the Chestatee record book and gave a preview of his potential.
But it may have been the persuasion of his older brother that kept Vasser from leaving the football field permanently after his sophomore season. You see, while Chase was a natural at football, golf was his first love.
Chase thought all along that he would rather pursue a college scholarship to play golf at the next level. Lane, a 2007 Chestatee graduate, knew it would be a mistake for his little brother to pass up that kind of potential. As Chase saw his body start to develop more like a football player he started to fall in line with his brother’s thinking.
"I reminded him that he had 104 tackles and he was only 15 years old," Lane said. "I just said, ‘imagine how good you can be if you keep playing.’"
"They told me I’d be crazy to give up on football," Chase said.
Chase was not just a weekend warrior on the golf course. He competed in numerous tour events with the Atlanta Junior Golf Association the summer after his freshman year. Vasser was also a standout on the War Eagles golf team for three seasons.
"Everyone knows that I’m a golfer," Chase said.
Chase says he know carries around a 2.5 handicap. While he’s come to grips with not playing golf in college, he’s found a group of Georgia teammates — including starting quarterback Joe Cox, and incoming freshmen quarterbacks Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray — to pal around with on the golf course.
Chase’s love of golf traces back to his maternal grandfather, Gene Bailey, who customized some small clubs for the Vasser brothers when they were young. Lane, who now plays football at West Georgia, figured out quickly that his future was going to be as a running back in football. But Chase was immediately hooked on golfing.
He finally got the message from Lane and his classmate Blaine Strickland, that football would be the best bet for a future in college.
"They just really pushed me into focusing," Chase added.
As a junior, Vasser was more focused than every with 138 tackles, 36 TFL and 13 sacks. This season he finished with 141 tackles and four sacks, despite lingering injuries.
Lane knew from an early age that his little brother had potential. When Lane was 10, his little brother was the first player on the team that could tackle him.
The brothers still talk about that story to this day. Lane was running straight toward his little brother, running him over, except for the fact that his cleat got trapped in Chase’s helmet, bringing Lane down to the ground.
"We still talk about that all the time," Lane said. "My foot went right in his facemask and got caught."
As Chase signed his scholarship with the Bulldogs on Wednesday, he was signaling in a new chapter of his football career. He’ll now be trying to track down some of the premier college running backs in the nation next year.