For most of his young life, Chase Truesdale spent his falls playing football before switching over the basketball in December.
That all changed when he looked into the mirror and saw someone who needed to become bigger and stronger if he wanted to play college football. So, following his sophomore football campaign, he dropped hoops from his repertoire and starting hitting the weight room in trying to add to what was then a 6-foot-4, 185-pound frame.
After his junior season, with his uncle Brock Williams by his side, Truesdale started adding addional bulk and muscle to become a 6-foot-6, 225-pound senior tight end for Camden High School. And, after three seasons as a starter and two after waving bye-bye to the hardwood, he is making yet another move; this time to Limestone College.
Last Wednesday, Truesdale put pen to paper and became part of the third signing class for a Saints program which just completed its first varsity campaign as a member of the NCAA Division II ranks.
Truesdale said he is excited to be on the ground floor of a growing program in Gaffney.
"They have a new program and I’m, basically, going to be part of the building blocks of it," he said after making his signing official in a ceremony held inside the Camden High library. "They have a young team; all they have are freshmen and sophomores and I’m happy to be a part of that."
Truesdale finished his career at Camden by being helped off the field in the regular season finale at Chapin after having sustained a torn ACL while also tearing the meniscus in his left knee after having made his 11th catch of the year. He finished 2014 with 11 catches for 141 yards with a long reception of 29 yards and two touchdowns. Due to the injuries, Truesdale did not play in the Bulldogs’ first round AAA state playoff loss at Belton-Honea Path.
On the positive side, Truesdale is walking without the aid of a set of crutches or a knee brace. There is no visible sign of limping from an injury which took place on Halloween night.
"They did the surgery and took a piece of my hamstring and made a new ACL for me," Truesdale said of the surgical procedure.
"It’s coming along good. I’m doing a lot of rehab and getting it back strong and working all the muscles around the knee. It should be good by May, maybe."
Elevated to the CHS varsity squad as a sophomore, Truesdale spent the first three weeks of the 2012 season playing sparingly and being used more as a decoy than as a viable receiving target. All that changed in the week four contest against Lugoff-Elgin when Bulldog head coach Jimmy Neal took the training wheels off Truesdale who had his first four varsity catches for 58 yards in a 46-35 Camden win.
Truesdale closed his sophomore year with 14 grabs for a career-best 160 yards and a touchdown. A year later, he had a dozen grabs for 87 yards with one trip into the end zone.
Neal said he sees plenty of brighter days ahead for a tight end with good hands and who runs north to south after making the catch.
"Chase has a tremendous upside," said the Bulldog boss. "Being 6-foot-6, his body has not caught up to his height and Chase is going to only get bigger, faster and stronger. He has really good hands and does a good job of catching the ball. Getting used to the speed of the game will be his biggest thing."
Just as important for a tight end is that Truesdale does not shy away from contact and can open holes for ball carriers, as CHS liked to run to his side of the field over the past three falls.
Should Limestone head coach Bobby James and his staff decide to keep Truesdale at tight end, Neal said his former player will need to put on more weight in order to be able to win one-on-one battles with defensive ends, linebackers and defensive backs who will all be stronger than players at those positions whom Truesdale faced in high school.
"What Chase really does a great job with is his blocking. He takes a lot of pride in that," Neal said.
"The weight room is going to be very important for him because he’s not going to be able to block the guys he will face in college like he did in high school with the way his body is right now. He’ll get bigger and stronger and as he does, he’ll be a dominant blocking and receiving tight end."
Truesdale said the Limestone coaching staff has not ruled out splitting him out wide on occasions in different schemes. The Saints already have Andrew Hutto, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound rising sophomore at tight end. There could be those sets which would call for Truesdale to join Hutto in a two tight end alignment which would give the defense fits.
"They liked my size and they said my blocking was pretty good," Truesdale said of the evaluation he was given by the Saints’ offensive staff. "They have another tight end there who is about my size and they want to get us both in there on the big set where we run seems up the middle and throw to one of us."
While Truesdale knows the game will change at the college level in terms of speed and physicality, he also understands that due to his injury, he will be limited in what he can and cannot do until he gets the green light from his doctors to go full speed.
"I’ll probably have to take it a little easier," he said of his ongoing rehabilitation. "I know that I’ll have to wear a leg brace for about a year. I’ll be doing therapy on the side. I won’t be able to lift with everybody else but I will be able to do my own thing."
Neal said Truesdale is doing as he is told by his doctors and is already ahead of where he is supposed to be at this point in time after having sustained such an injury. The CHS head coach said Truesdale is not the type of person who will try to return to the field until he is completely healthy.
"The doctors tell him what to do and Chase jumps right on it," Neal said. "He’s way ahead of most people who have had this surgery. His biggest thing will be, when the time comes, to ease into it and do what the trainers tell him to do instead of trying to do too much too soon."
Away from the field, Truesdale knows things will be different as he embarks on his own for the first time. That, he admitted, will be as big an adjustment as getting used to playing a new style of football.
"It’s going to be hard because you only have yourself, you don’t have your parents to wake you up and get you to school in the morning," he said with a smile. "You have to do it all yourself. It’s all on you now. It’s your own responsibility."
All things considered, Neal said the fit between Chase Truesdale and Limestone College is a good one which should benefit both parties.
"Chase is just such a hard worker and a great kid. I’m really excited for him," Neal said. "Limestone got a steal."