Remember Hoo: Charles Way
Oct. 30, 2001
by Scott Barbee
Fullback: a football position lined up between the halfback and thequarterback, generally a lead blocker for the halfback.When Charles Way was a Virginia Cavalier and a New York Giant, thatis exactly what he did – lead running backs through gaping holes forlarge gain. He has since brought that same mentality to the rest ofhis work, helping lead kids and men alike to success in all of theirendeavors.
Lettering from 1991 to 1994, Way was a leader on and off the fieldfor the Cavaliers. He compiled 1,342 rushing yards and 20touchdowns, along with 35 receptions, during his collegiate career.He started at fullback his final two seasons and was a tri-captainwith Mike Frederick and Randy Neal as a senior in 1994. As a senior,Way also earned All-ACC honorable mention recognition both his juniorand senior year, and was also named the winner of the Ben WilsonAward for best Cavalier offensive player during his senior season.He capped off his senior season with one his best games as a Cavalierin the 1994 Independence Bowl, rushing for 90 yards and a touchdownin UVa’s 20-10 victory over Texas Christian University.
“We were the first class of seniors to win a bowl game while I wasthere, so that was special,” says Way. The bowl win helped UVa endwith its highest-ever season-ending final season ranking (13th by USAToday/CNN and 15th by AP).
The end of Way’s Virginia career did not signify the end of footballfor the fullback. He was taken in the sixth round of the 1995 NFLDraft by the New York Giants, and then became the first Giant in 10years to start the opening game of his rookie season. He went on toplay five successful seasons in New York, totaling 1,356 yardsrushing and 118 catches for another 898 yards, along with 14 totaltouchdowns. His career was unfortunately cut short by a knee injuryafter the 1999 season.
Way has had no problems adjusting to work off the field. While atthe University, he was a two-time member of the All-ACC Academic Teamand graduated with a degree in civil engineering. He now works inthe Giants’ front office as the director of player development.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to give back to younger players, aswell as older players, and instill in them the values that allowed meto succeed and be where I am today,” says Way. “I try to get theguys thinking about the question: ‘What am I going to do afterfootball?’ I use myself as an example, telling them that [playing inthe NFL] doesn’t last a long time and they better be prepared whentheir careers are over.”
Way has helped many current players start to find opportunities offthe field for when their playing days are over. He helps them findinternships and encourages all players to get their college degrees,just like him, if they haven’t already done so. His hope for everyplayer is, that after they finish playing, “they can go out into thework force and contribute.”
He brings that same philosophy to the Charles Way Football Camp.Held the last seven summers on the campus of East StroudsburgUniversity in Pennsylvania kids ages eight to 18. According to Way,the camp is just as much about achieving life-long success as it ison-the-field training.
“I want to give the kids the best opportunity to succeed in life andinstill the values that were instilled in me when I was in littleleague. Football can lend a helping hand in becoming productive tosociety because it enables you to get ready and be ready for lifeoutside in the real world. You are working with 10 other guys outthere on the football field trying to accomplish one goal, which isto score a touchdown and then stop the other team. The only way thatyou can succeed is if you all work together.”
Way attributes much of his own success to what he learned on and offthe field at the University.
“Football helped me all-around,” he says. “Just the strictness andhow [former head coach George] Welsh always pushed you to be yourbest. It instilled those values in me. Coach Welsh would say, ‘Hey,if you want to succeed at this level, you have to always strive toget better,’ and that’s what I did.
Way took his classroom time at the University serious as well. Hesays that his hard work and Virginia’s teaching style have been vitalto his success after graduation.
“The University prepares everyone to go out into the work place andbe a valuable contributor. I think that preparation is what islacking at a lot of universities today, and then we aren’t ready togo out and help society, but Virginia prepared me very well. Youreally have to hit your books at Virginia. In order for you tosucceed at UVa, you have learn how to work hard, and then go do it.”
Way still enjoys catching up with people from the University andwatching the Cavaliers on television whenever possible. He enjoyedseeing new Offensive Line Coach Ron Prince up in New York last yearas part of the NFL’s Minority Fellowship Program.
Now living in Wayne, New Jersey with his wife and two daughters (agesfour and one), Way says he will always cherish his ties to theUniversity and its football program. He will never forget theUniversity though.
“Being part of Virginia was, and continues to be, just a greatexperience all around,” he says.