Creekmur cozy at home

AMES – A two-year basketball venture out west left him unsettled.

And a brief trial at tight end didn’t trip his trigger either.

Returning to the heartland last spring for the sport he loves, Chanse Creekmur has finally moved back to his true home – under center.

After competing on the Arizona State basketball team for his freshman and sophomore seasons, the 2010 Marshalltown High School grad had a change of heart and transferred to Iowa State where he redshirted as a walk-on with the football team last year.

Readapting to the gridiron at tight end, Creekmur still felt out of place and after a discussion with Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, he returned to the position where he set single-season Class 4A records in completions, yardage and passing touchdowns while leading the Bobcats to the state championship game in 2009.

“It was tough, but it was something I really wanted to do so I’ve just been working at it,” said Creekmur of switching to quarterback where he currently sits third on the Cyclones’ depth chart behind Sam Richardson and Grant Rohach.

“If you love what you do, then it’s not that hard.”

That passion has shown through since the spring where the 2009 Central Iowa Metropolitan League Offensive Player of the Year has rededicated himself in the weight room, on the field and in the film room.

“He’s certainly shown where his love was,” Rhoads said at Iowa State’s media day Sunday. “Quite honestly, I don’t know if he ever really embraced being a tight end in the process, which is fine. He made this move to quarterback and now has become a very valuable commodity to us because of that.”

The No. 3 quarterback was quite a commodity for the Cyclones last season when Richardson rose from the third spot on the depth chart to a starting role in the final two games after uneven performances from Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett.

With Creekmur’s college eligibility counting down, Rhoads made it clear that Iowa State wants to make the most of the Marshalltown grad’s final two years and will likely redshirt true freshman Joel Lanning and Trevor Hodge.

“As a staff, we’d like to get Creekmur to a point where we could use him,” Rhoads said.

“If we got to where we had to get a 3 into the game, because his eligibility is ticking, then we could do that.”

Throwing a weighted ball to rebuild his arm strength and going through extended reps with receivers and running backs to improve his timing, Creekmur has tackled some of the physical hurdles in his transition back to quarterback head on. Though his largest challenges will be more cerebral – mastering the playbook and fully commanding the trust of his teammates.

“He has really made huge strides from the spring to the fall in his ability to handle the offense and have the players around him have confidence in his abilities,” Iowa State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Courtney Messingham said.

“He’s spent a lot more time in the film room, a lot more time learning and he’s done a nice job making that move from tight end to quarterback.”

Though Creekmur wasn’t tossing the pigskin in his redshirt season, his time at tight end still had its benefits in smoothing his shift to signal caller. Reacclimating to the rigors of football, the 2009 Des Moines Register’s Offensive Player of the Year also established early bonds with his teammates.

“It made me tougher – I was going against (linebackers) A.J. Klein and Jake Knott on the scout team, so I took a couple shots,” said the two-time MHS letterwinner of his experience at tight end.

“I got to make relationships with the guys and make some good friends. They’re good teammates and that’s a good thing to build around. The second year is a lot easier. You know how people are and what their tendencies are.”

Richardson represents one of those important relationships and has eased the learning curve for Creekmur behind center.

“He’s learning. Sam has been coaching him up and helping him out,” Cyclone tailback James White said of the former Bobcat’s progress.

“(Sam) is giving him pointers whether it’s being more accurate or reading the left side, or not staring the offensive person down and stuff like that. I’ve seen him help (Chanse) grow up a little more.”

Creekmur’s two seasons on the basketball court with the Sun Devils aided that process as he continued to sharpen his competitive skills and steady hand under pressure, while gaining a grasp on Division I athletics.

“He really handles himself very well. He doesn’t get rattled,” said Messingham of Creekmur’s athletic experience and demeanor.

“Things don’t always go right, but for him he’s not on that roller-coaster. He’s been in competitive situations in the past and he’s able to stay pretty even-keel and handle whatever situation comes to him.”

Whether that’s stepping into a starting role if Richardson or Rohach go down or lining up on a play at tight end (still a possibility according to Messingham), Creekmur is preparing himself for whatever scenario may arise.

While Rhoads is impressed with all the physical tools Creekmur – an agile, 6-foot-5, 246-pounder – brings to the position, continuing to improve his mastery of the playbook and in turn the speed of his decision-making will go a long way in determining his chances at leading the offense.

“The quickness and urgency of executing the job,” Rhoads said of the main areas Creekmur needs to develop.

“You need to do things on time at this position in this offense and that’s where he needs to get to.”

After two years out of the sport and another out of position, Creekmur has a renewed perspective on his opportunity and is ready to make the most of his final two seasons in Ames.

“It hurt being away from the game for two years and then coming back and playing a different position,” Creekmur said.

“It was kind of rough, but it made me appreciate playing football again.”