Chad Voytik knew something was wrong. All he had to do was glance at the knuckle jutting out of his throwing hand to realize that.
The Cleveland (Cleveland, Tenn.) quarterback smacked his right hand on the helmet of a Red Bank (Red Bank, Tenn.) defensive end while following through on a throw during a game last season. Voytik made matters worse when he braced himself as he fell and landed on the hand, which caused a compound dislocation of his right index finger.
At first glance it looked like Voytik’s season was finished. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he had surgery to repair the finger that same evening.
But two weeks later, Voytik returned to the field and threw for two touchdowns in a win over Walker Valley (Cleveland, Tenn.).
So toughness clearly isn’t an issue for Voytik. And neither is talent. Rated the nation’s No. 13 quarterback by ESPNU, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound senior has committed to Pittsburgh and was an Elite 11 finalist this past summer.
That toughness and talent will be on display this Friday when Cleveland plays archrival Bradley Central (Cleveland, Tenn.) at 8 p.m. on ESPNU.
But there’s more to Voytik than just football. Born in Warren, Ohio, he moved to Cleveland when he was 3 and has family that lives in Sharon, Pennsylvania, which is roughly a 90-minute drive from where he’ll be playing college ball.
And faith and academics (Voytik has 4.0 GPA) are just as important to him as starring on the gridiron.
Get Familiar with this well-rounded signal-caller before you watch him play Friday night.
ESPNHS: You grew up close to Pittsburgh and have family still living in the area. Did that play a role in your decision to pick the Panthers?
Voytik: It didn’t play a big role, but it’s a nice thing to know that if I ever want to go home for a home-cooked meal, it’s only an hour away. The Pittsburgh coaching staff is a great group of guys. Of course they’re great coaches, but they’re also great men and that’s important. And coach (Todd) Graham is the leader of that. And I love the city; it seems like an awesome place to live. And it’s a well-respected school academically and that was really important to me. I felt like they offered it all.
ESPNHS: How difficult is it to balance school with football and trying to be successful in both?
Voytik: The high school I go to is known for its high academic standards, and I take honors courses to try to get prepared for college. It gets difficult because you’re trying to balance film study with your English 4 work. I also have church on Wednesday nights and Sundays. But it’s been a good thing for me to learn time management for the future.
ESPNHS: How important is your faith in your life?
Voytik: I think it’s played a big role in everything I do. When I get stressed out with all I have to balance, I can go to church and put things in perspective and get rejuvenated for the rest of the week. It’s a big part of who I am. It helps me let go of all the stress and know there’s a bigger purpose.
ESPNHS: Why did you come back so quickly from that gruesome injury to your finger last year?
Voytik: It was all bandaged up and in a splint, but I could grip it enough to let it fly. I knew I could play, and I think it showed that I could overcome obstacles. I really didn’t feel pain. I would say it defined me. I already had offers, so people thought I was crazy.
ESPNHS: What are your plans if football doesn’t work out?
Voytik: I’m going to Pittsburgh to major in business. My dream one day is to own a facility that’s quarterback specific where I could teach young kids how to play the position. I’ve done it before during the summer and I really enjoyed it.
ESPNHS: How did your success at Elite 11 help prepare you for this year?
Voytik: There was a lot of pressure and anxiety. I learned you need to be able to compete when the time calls for it. It showed me that when I needed to buckle down, I could. To put all that work in and be named a finalist was rewarding.
ESPNHS: How big is the rivalry between Cleveland and Bradley Central?
Voytik: If you don’t have a good game against Bradley, you feel like your season could have been better. I have friends over there, but in general they have stuff to say about us and our students have stuff to say about them. Before our game last year, during their pep rally, they put a dummy with a No. 8 jersey in a coffin. I guess they wanted to bury me. They had signs around their school that said, “R.I.P. Voytik.” Someone sent a picture (of the signs) to my phone. I saved it and posted it on Facebook after we won and said, “Looks like I’ll be resting in peace tonight.” Being on TV will get people extra excited.
School: Cleveland (Cleveland, Tenn.)
TV Show: “The Office”
Movie: “Remember the Titans”
Actor: Will Ferrell
Musical Artist: Goo Goo Dolls
Athlete: Drew Brees
Pro Team: Kansas City Chiefs
School Subject: Math
Clothing Line: Nike
Food: Shrimp Alfredo
NEXT UP: Cleveland plays Bradley Central this Friday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Jon Mahoney covers football for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Email him at email@example.com to let him know which high school football player he should Get Familiar with.