Stronger Together

By Ernie Gonzalez:

In 2010 rapper Eminem released a song called Space Bound. Before that, Dr. Dre released a song called The Next Episode.

Well, both of those song titles can become relatable — to an extent, assuming two Spartan defensive backs perform parallel to their respective 2016 season, if you know what I mean.

But incase you don’t, here’s a hint: ‘Space Bound’ and ‘The Next Episode.’ College Football … NFL Football … yeah, you get the point.

Eminem and Dr. Dre also play for the San Jose State Spartans.  

Just kidding. Not the real Eminem and Dr. Dre, I’m talking about Maurice McKnight and Andre Chachere…M&M and Dre.

That’s enough of hip-hop. Let’s talk football.

As the self proclaimed ‘Moneyteam’ in 2016, the pair will play their final campaign as Spartans this upcoming season and echoing a year as last might just highlight their names on NFL scouting clipboards.

Why the moneyteam? McKnight knows. “We got one goal and that’s to make it to the NFL and based off of how we perform is how we are going to get paid.”

It’s a bond that begins in practice, but translates to the Saturday-stage for Dre and M&M. McKnight wasted no time expressing his thoughts on the mental 1v1’s he shares with his teammate.

“That’s a given.” McKnight said. “We always have competition … and see who has the most energy at practice. We call it Ratchet Dollars.”

An interesting incentive for sure, but if it works, it works.

As for the ‘Moneyteam,’ it sure seems as though it’s headed in the right direction, as it will look to rich up on ‘Ratchet Dollars’ when it counts come August.

“It’s a brotherhood. It’s a bond. Nobody can break it,” McKnight said. “Same thing. We’ve been brothers since we’ve got here,” Chachere followed.

“I feel like I push [Chachere] more than he thinks because I want him to make it just as bad as I want to make it.” McKnight said.

“Our bond is so strong and we know that if we are going to be slacking, then we are not going to reach our ultimate goal.”

It’s a goal indeed, but a mindset that doesn’t just lie between the lines, but starts in the classroom.

“I feel like once we see the other one slacking, we kind of get on each other. We know how to get on each other. We’re not putting each other down,” Chachere said. “We got one goal. We got to win games and we have to make it to the NFL.”

As cornerstones of the Spartan defense, safety McKnight and corner Chachere have seen the peaks and valleys of San Jose State football.

Together, they joined the Spartans back in 2014 as freshman, filling in for the dominant 2013 season Bene Benwikere, current Bengal had.

The 2014 season was the best defensive year in Spartan history, especially for the Spartan secondary, as it ranked second-to-none giving up just 11.2 completions per game. Not to mention SJSU allowed only 117.8 yards per game, by far the best statistical defense in the nation.   

Chachere and McKnight sponged from Cleveland Wallace III, Jimmy Pruitt and Forrest Hightower, the experienced defensive backs at the time.

Together, they were sophomores in 2015, a defensive that disappeared in the shadows of a high powered Spartan offense lead by senior Tyler Ervin and a primed Kenny Potter.

A 5-7 overall record was enough to send SJSU to the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando, ultimately defeating the Georgia State Panthers.

Side-by-side, the two combined for six interceptions, three forced fumbles and 17 pass deflections in 2016, by far their most successful seasons as a pair, although their record didn’t show it, as the Spartans won only four games last season.

The stakes are high and binoculars will be focused on the pair this coming season. “If I had to say one word… lockdown,” Chachere said when asked about the one word that describes the Spartan secondary.

In 2014, the Spartans as a defense gave up just 117.8 yards per game ranking them the best in the country.

The only other program to allow less than 120 yards in college football over the last 13 seasons: University of Alabama, who did it twice, nnce in 2004, and once in 2011.

Despite only winning three games that year, the Spartan DBs gave up just 11.2 completions per game and as a whole gave up only six touchdowns. SJSUs defense gave up just 1414 yards in 12 games, nearly 500 yards less than any other school (Georgia).

Chachere hit it right on the bubble. ‘Lockdown’ defines the Spartan secondary.

Okay, back to hip-hop this time it would be short, I promise.

“You risked your career for me, I know it as well as you.” Thats a lyric straight from the Grammy Award-winning ‘Best Rap Song’ I Need a Doctor that Eminem and Dr. Dre released Together in 2011.

That is a lyric the two will sing on the field this August. There is nothing like two players on the same team who share the same dream.

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