Question, BarkBoard.com: You committed to Fresno State, but weren’t on the National Signing Day list. Can you clarify your status?
Answer, Clive Truschel: I’m doing a grayshirt, which means I get an extra six months to prepare - like a semester. I had a spinal infection my sophomore year and it took me out for a whole year. I’ve had to come back academically and athletically from that. It’s given me time to get my strength back. Normally I wouldn’t be this light - I’m only 265 or 270 right now. I need to put on some weight and get ready for college.
Q: Can you describe what you endured during the spinal infection? Did you ever think you’d bounce back toward a college football scholarship?
A: In terms of thinking if I was going to come back to a scholarship, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking of the season to get the scholarship. I was thinking of the preparation I was missing out on. My strength was decreasing and I wasn’t as strong as I needed to be to get that scholarship.
I was in the hospital for about a week. Before that… I was still bedridden. I could hardly move. I could only stay up about 30 minutes at a time. On Black Friday, 2015, I had a problem where I had to go immediately to the hospital. They gave me pain medication and a couple weeks later I had to go to a different hospital where they did a biopsy on me. They found out it was Osteomyelitis, which is like Salmonella in the spine, which is really rare. They had to record it in doctor record books and stuff like that. They gave me a lot of antibiotics which wasn’t fun and my body didn’t take to kindly to them. They found one that worked and I was on that for six weeks. When I was doing homework I would lean over and my muscles started pulling on me weird. My muscles got stuck in a certain spot where I was leaning sideways to move forward. I had to go to a different doctor to get that fixed. I had to go to physical therapy for (about) two months. After that it was straight to the weights. I was lifting and doing core exercises to get my stomach and my back stronger to make sure I didn’t have any injuries my senior season. My senior season went good.
Q: Was there concern about playing football after that? Spine injuries and football usually don’t mix.
A: First, they thought it was a herniated disk, which is when the disk just blows. It turned out it dissolved the disk. There’s not even a disk in my back anymore. The two vertebrae fused together. I was definitely worried, I still wanted to play. My parents told me it’s okay that I didn’t have to play if I didn’t want to, but I could if I wanted to. My mind was, ‘I’ve got to get out on the field. I have to keep lifting and practicing for the season.’ I didn’t let that drag me down too much. Now when I think about it, it’s kind of annoying or sad, but at the time I wasn’t thinking of the problem, I was thinking how to fix it. That mentality helped me though.
Q: You obviously took a hit physically. What did the infection do to your academics?
A: It was a pain in the butt - a complete trainwreck for my schooling, really. I wasn’t able to do any work because I was stuck in bed all day. I couldn’t lean forward, so it wasn’t like you could prop me up. My back was so messed up, I had to lay in one spot, and move every 30 minutes because it would hurt. I couldn’t do any work for a whole semester. After that semester I was able to start doing online school. I had to catch up with three classes every summer, three full semesters of work every summer. I had my whole junior year, which was normal. My senior year I had eight classes my first semester and I have seven now to catch up. Once I’m done, I’m finally finished.
Q: So what happens during the grayshirt period, will you be attending Fresno State at that time?
A: I’m going to Fresno State. I’m probably going to take some general ed. It’s not on the scholarship, but to help buy some time and get some of the college credit in while I have a job and I’m lifting - mainly preparation for football. I’m going to be going into some general ed for two classes and then after that I’ll be fully into college after that.
Q: Are you permitted to participate in anything football related - practice, meetings?
A: Nothing until I sign. In January when I sign, I’ll be able to start.
Q: What was the recruiting process like with Fresno State?
A: Fresno State was definitely the first college to talk to me. They were right here… I remember the morning the first time I ever talked to a coach… he said ‘Hi’ and the whole experience was really nice. They were really friendly - they wanted to be my friend, be nice and talk to me. In terms of actually telling me when I got the scholarship, it was really cool. I was in my science and I had no idea what was going on. The coach called me and told me, ‘We’d like to offer you a scholarship.’ I was blown away by it.
Q: Was it the previous coaching staff that offered?
A: It was the previous coaches. I thought the previous coaches were pretty cool, but I’m really liking the new coaches also. They are just as cool, if not better. My new offensive line coach (Grubb), is awesome and really funny. I’m sure during practices he’s probably not too funny. When I met him he was super nice, Coach Tedford is awesome and I’ve talked to him multiple times. He seems like a really good guy and he’s going to bring the program around.
Q: When did you commit?
A: It was when we played San Jose (State) for the last game of the season. That exact day I talked to (Tedford) before the game.
Q: What was it about Fresno State that made it the right fit?
A: It’s close, my family is right here. My dad played ‘84-’88 and he played offensive line. I kind of wanted to follow in his footsteps. There was also me just wanting to play on a D-I team. I wanted to prove myself and prove my strength that I could come back. Being here, it’s really awesome because all my friends from high school… (will be close to watch). I’m really comfortable in Fresno. If I’m going to live anywhere in California I want it to be Fresno. I love the coaches also, they're all super nice.
Q: Did any other schools offer you?
A: San Jose State and Northern Arizona University. They were both really nice also and were trying really hard to persuade me, but overall I felt Fresno State was the best choice for me.
Q: Looking back, how does it feel to have overcome what you did.
A: I’m more of a person that likes to look forward. When I do look back, I’ve been through a lot. I think it’s made who I am. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to push myself this far. I think it’s changed me mentally, made me more of a stronger person mentally and helped me push through things.
Q: Do you have a major in mind for college?
A: Computer Engineering.
Q: Any career ideas if the NFL isn’t in your future?
A: My friend was planning on creating a cybersecurity business for banking. I was thinking I could join him on that. I’m interested in video games, programming and stuff like that, making computer applications. Anything with a computer, that’s what I’d want to be doing.
Q: You were recently nominated for the Rene Errotabere scholarship - can you explain what that consists of?
A: It’s a memorial scholarship for Rene Errotabere. He was a wrestler and wrestling coach. He was really influential in Clovis Unified’s whole way it’s ran. I heard he’s a really nice guy. I never got to meet him because he passed away sadly. It is a scholarship for being the most competitive student athlete at your school. I got nominated for that. It’s mainly for pushing through something, going against adversity, which I was really honored to be picked for. I’m really thankful for Clovis West for choosing me.
Q: What does your dad think about you following in his footsteps and playing for Fresno State?
A: He’s definitely really for me playing for Fresno State. We’re always going to the football games. Him being able to stay here is also good for him. Obviously he would follow me if I went to a different college, but he really likes the fact that I’m playing for his alma mater… I’m really excited about it too. For him, I’m happy to be able to follow in his footsteps… but I’m also happy to be able to prove myself and try my best for the team I want to play for.
Q: What role do the Bulldog have planned for you?
A: Center or guard, hopefully center. I feel like I’d fit in really well. I’ve been playing center for about three years before this. I’m not at as tall for a tackle… I just need to put on some weight. I’m 6-3, 270.