Uphill battles are nothing new for Cumberland University football signee Chris Hale.
The all-time leading rusher (4,256 yards) in the 11-year history of Eagleville High School is once again putting his nose to the grindstone hoping to be ready for the opening of fall camp.
A 2013 Tennessee Titans Class 1A Mr. Football finalist, Hale suffered a serious knee injury in the final game of his high school career, a 16-0 loss to Adamsville in the state quarterfinals.
Hale, who rushed for 1,826 yards as a senior, had rushed for 10 yards on five carries before going down late in the first quarter.
He never returned.
Reports indicate Hale is "knee-deep" in his rehab efforts and is hoping to be on the field with the rest of CU's freshman signing class Thursday, August 14.
“Chris was released by the medical folks about a month ago and he’s planning on being ready this fall,” said his former high school coach Steve Carson.
Standing just 5-foot-10, 170-pounds, Hale has grown accustomed to dealing with doubters.
“Chris is not going to pass the ‘look test’, but he’s a naturally born tailback. He runs with his eyes, knows how to press the line of scrimmage, make one cut and go.”
As a two-way starter for the Eagles, Hale helped lead his team to back-to-back trips to the quarterfinals and a two-year record of 18-7.
Coach Hale’s program at Eagleville also produced Cumberland standout Nathan Jernigan -- a redshirt sophomore who blossomed in 2013 to be named the Mid-South Conference West Division Freshman of the Year.
Jernigan led the Bulldogs with 66 tackles with 8 tackles for loss with one sack, four interceptions, three pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble while starting 10 games for Cumberland.
“I got to see Cumberland play quite a bit last year with Nathan doing so well,” Carson said, “the running game they utilize is very similar to what we do at Eagleville.
“Running the inside and outside zone, it takes a back who has some discipline back there. Chris can be that kind of back.”
BULLDOG BITES -- Cumberland, ranked No. 23 in the final NAIA poll of 2013 with a record of 7-4, enters the 2014 campaign ranked No. 25 in the NAIA Football Coaches’ Spring Top 25 Poll.
Coach Donnie Suber’s squad opens the season at home against the University of the Cumberlands on September 6 and will take on Belhaven University, Campbellsville University, Reinhardt University and Alderson Broaddus at Nokes-Lasater Field in 2014.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to play road games at UT Martin, Bluefield College, the University of Pikeville, Union College, Faulkner University and Bethel University.
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