Melton moves on after football
Charles Melton, like every Kansas State football player, will spend the last weeks of summer tuning up for the most important time of year. But for him, this preseason is worlds different than the last. His current regimen doesn't include pads or a playbook. He doesn't own a chinstrap, and wearing a helmet would be downright counterproductive.
The lack of equipment seems strange for a guy who suffered three concussions before his sophomore year of college, but these days, he's too concerned with a different type of headshot to worry about hits such as the one that indirectly ended his football career last season.
Don't dare feel sorry for Melton, though. Getting handsomely compensated for being photographed and regularly attending parties stocked with women who are literally paid to be gorgeous isn't exactly digging ditches.
"I'm 100-percent just blessed," said Melton, a Manhattan High School product who played just one season as a Wildcat defensive back. "There's a lot of events to go to and you meet a lot of celebrities, so it's all pretty cool. I miss football a lot, and I miss hanging out with the guys, but there's no turning back for me now."
Click Here to view this Link.The dog days of Melton's summer have been spent as far away from a football field as possible. Instead, his focus is glued to New York City's upcoming Fashion Week, at which nearly every photographer and major designer in the world will take turns evaluating his look, not his athleticism.
No, preseason training isn't what it used to be.
"I have to stay in tip-top shape for Fashion Week, but I don't touch weights anymore because I have to stay thin," Melton said. "I have to have a pretty solid walk out there, too. It's nothing like Zoolander or anything, but I have to have a good walk down the catwalk."
As a football player, Melton is probably best remembered as the little-known special teams contributor who took a brain-jarring shot on the opening kickoff of last year's game against in-state rival Kansas. He now refers to the incident as the hit that made him famous, but as he wobbled off the turf with the help of team trainers in front of a hushed crimson-and-blue crowd, his 40-yard dash from bench-warming walk-on to international male model sprouted its roots.
"I don't even remember that hit whatsoever," said Melton, who appeared just once more in a K-State jersey following his early exit from the October game in Lawrence. "It was my third concussion of the season. You read that all these sports concussions are starting to get more serious, so that's when I decided to start really thinking about what I wanted to do after football was over, and that was modeling."
His six-month fast-track from media guides to magazines started just this winter, when an open call in Florida turned into an invitation to move to Los Angeles. From there, it was either football or flashbulbs, and when you consider the fact that the man who discovered him, Tony Perkins, is the same talent scout that stumbled upon Ashton Kutcher, declining the offer to leave school in pursuit of a dream wasn't much of an option.
The twist of fate was something lifted from the first act of some absurd teenage comedy. Even today, Melton has trouble resisting the urge to give himself a dream-check slap.
"I get told every day how lucky I am," he said. "I'm very blessed that I was there at the right place and at the right time."
After receiving roughly 20 callbacks from his appearance at the Florida-based showcase, things took off … and not in the traditional sense, either. He dropped nearly 20 pounds at the request of Perkins -- a process that wasn't easy for a football player accustomed to fighting to add weight -- before picking up his life and making a nervous drive west. Upon his arrival in California, he blew out of the modeling blocks like a half-Asian Carl Lewis -- well, Carl Lewis with higher cheekbones and a more defined jaw line, that is.
"He had kind of a meteoric rise, but I knew it would be fast because there's nobody who looks like him," Perkins said. "He looks so international. Jobs just started coming in. It just kind of happened. He really didn't have to test that much or develop.
"He always did exactly what I asked him to do, and I think a lot of that comes from his time as an athlete."
Still, Melton's blazing start in the industry was just that -- a start, and his new career looks primed to pick up even more so from here. Any way you slice it, this life beats taking a beating in limited action on the football field.
"We haven't placed him in Europe yet, but everybody is scrambling to represent him in over there," Perkins said. "We're going to take a year before we put him over there."
His first modeling gig was with fashion giant Dolce & Gabbana and resulted in a 12-page advertisement set to debut this November. Since then, he's modeled in China, shot for GQ Magazine, worked with Calvin Klein and represented a handful of other brands. Then there's the fact that while his former Wildcat teammates were lugging around weight vests and running sprints in 100-degree heat this summer, Melton was busy being paid to pose alongside Avatar star Zoe Saldana.
Not to mention, having your picture show up on a website entitled Hunkdujour.com probably isn't bad for the ol' social life.
"He's gonna be big-time," K-State wide receiver Chris Harper said. "It's crazy."
Despite Harper's prognostic tone, the argument can be made that Melton is, in fact, already "big-time." He's equipped with an agent at a large modeling firm in Los Angeles, a manager who in lives in Tokyo and has a home in New York. And the work keeps piling up in front of him.
Not a bad run for his first half-year in the industry.
"So many people drive out to LA because it's the city of dreams, and nothing ever happens for them," Melton said. "I was lucky.
"When I left (K-State), the coaches told me, 'Once you're part of this family, you're part of this family forever.'"
And every family needs its maddeningly good-looking cousin.