Chandler kicks the blues

After battling injuries and switching schools, Del Oro grad set to make college debut
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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Ben Chandler was feeling blue long before he ever set foot on the uniquely-colored synthetic turf at Boise State’s Bronco Stadium. A season-ending knee injury sustained halfway through his senior year at Del Oro did more than keep Chandler on the sideline as the Golden Eagles marched to a 13-0 record and a Sac-Joaquin Section title. It derailed the college plans of the first commitment of Boise State’s 2006 recruiting class. “It was a bummer,” said the 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker, who transferred and has resurfaced this season at Sacramento State. “It was a bummer not to be able to finish my senior season. That’s what I cared about the most.” Chandler, who had 31 tackles through his first five games, was lead blocking on a Nick Huppe run during a 7-0 win over Rocklin when a blind hit tore his ACL and MCL. He tried to stay in the game but couldn’t. “Anything he has a passion for he goes after full speed,” said Brian Heath, a third-year tight end for the Hornets who also graduated with Chandler at Del Oro. “He was always that guy who led you onto the field and got people riled up. He still did the same kinds of things but it wasn’t the same. When he couldn’t be out there he felt like he was letting the team down.” He missed six games before taking the field with special teams in the section title game as the Eagles beat rival Rocklin 16-13. The Rocklin native had surgery in January following the football season and was forced to greyshirt for Boise State, staying home that fall and completing a course at Sierra College while waiting until the Spring 2007 semester to enroll fulltime in Idaho. “It was pretty crappy because all my other buddies shipped off to college, and I was still back home,” Chandler said. “I had to answer all the questions — ‘Oh, I thought you were going to Boise State?’ — and I had to explain 100 times about what a greyshirt is and this and that. That was the real downfall of it.” Greyshirting enabled Chandler to take a full year to recover and allowed him to dedicate more time to pumping iron in the gym. “It gave me a chance to mature, get bigger in the weight room and put on some weight,” he said. “I was having trouble putting on weight, so it worked out in the end.” After redshirting at Boise State last season, Chandler still didn’t feel the fit was right. He transferred to Sacramento State, where he’ll play alongside Del Oro teammates Heath and Bill Sherman, who both joined the Hornets out of high school. Chandler will play on the defensive line for the first time in his career. “The seniors all pretty much have their spots set in stone,” the freshman said. “The coaches said, ‘If you want more playing time you can move to D-end.’ I’ll get a lot more time there, if not start.” Sherman has helped Chandler acclimate to the new position. “I’ve been trying to help him out because he’s been linebacker his whole life,” Sherman said. “It’s been nice having him there because we’ve been boys for a long time.” “We were leaders on the team (at Del Oro) and it’s cool to have us back together,” Heath said. “You have someone you know and you’ve gone back a long way with.” Chandler plans to earn his B.A. in history at Sacramento State, continue on to graduate school and eventually earn his doctorate. Chandler, Heath, Sherman and the Hornets open the 2008 season at home against Humboldt State on Aug. 30. “My family can come and see me play here,” Chandler said. “At Boise they were only going to get to come up to see me once or twice a year, so it’s a blessing.”