Ex-semi-pro, Red Devil player to join Polish team

Former Georgia Ragin' Bulls and Lincoln County playerTelley Cheeley will play this season for the Polish League of American Football's Bielawa Owls team, and also coach a high school team there.

When most young players dream of a future in professional football, they usually envision landing in cities like Miami, Dallas or Pittsburgh.


But former Lincoln County Red Devil Telley Cheeley will begin his pro career in Bielawa, Poland.

Cheeley, who has spent the past three seasons playing for the Georgia Ragin' Bulls semi-pro team, signed a one-year deal to play for the Bielawa Owls of the Polish League of American Football.

"I had never even thought about playing in Poland, but I was ready to play anywhere," said Cheeley. "When I got that phone call that they wanted me to sign, I saw it as a blessing."

Ragin' Bulls owner Jimmy Cronan helped Cheeley by introducing him to World Sports Scouting, an agency designed to help professional teams in Europe find talent. Cheeley took part in the agency's Southeastern combine in Americus, Ga., where he impressed the scouts at multiple skill positions.

Cheeley was a senior on the 2003 Red Devils team that reached the Class A state championship game. He will be one of only a handful of American-born players in the league when its season begins in March.

As a member of the Owls, Cheeley will also be assigned to coach one of Bielawa's fledgling high school football programs. Poland's interest in America's version of football has grown in recent years.

"That's going to be an experience. I've always wanted to do some coaching so really, that's a big step for me. I'm looking forward to getting over there, working with the kids and helping out as much as possible," Cheeley said.

Cheeley, who leaves for Poland later this month, understands there will be challenges coaching and being a quarterback overseas. He's never been outside of the U.S. and doesn't know a word of Polish.

"It's going to be a challenge at first but I think once we get past the language issue, everything will be fine. We don't have to talk alike as long as everyone works hard the same," he said.

If things go well this season, Cheeley could either re-sign with the Owls or be signed by another European team whose season starts later in the year. He hopes that eventually his play will lead him back to the U.S. for a tryout with an NFL team.