In Focus: Born on the Bayou
On any given fall Saturday in the city of Baton Rouge, you can find fans of all ages reveling and waiting in anticipation for the LSU Tiger football team to take the field of Death Valley.
The campus comes to life with excitement as Louisianians tailgate with a variety of Cajun cuisine, drinks of choice, and southern music.
A popular song heard blasting from tailgates is Creedence Clearwater Revival's, "Born on the Bayou." The song illustrates growing up in the south and enjoying all it has to offer.
No LSU player can relate to this song more than Thibodaux, La. native Chase Clement.
"I think it's pretty cool being the biggest Cajun on the team," Clement said. "That's my identity, and I'm proud of it. I think saving alligators is pretty manly, but I do find my accent went away since moving to Baton Rouge."
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His accent isn't the only thing that has changed for Clement since moving to Baton Rouge. After his freshman year, the coaching staff decided to move him from defensive end to tight end.
"The biggest thing when switching from defense to offense was that it helped me understand defenses better," Clement said.
With this new understanding of defenses, Clement made one of the most memorable calls in LSU football history with Brad Wing's fake punt in the victory over Florida last season.
"It was awesome to have that sense of awareness," Clement said. "I saw something the coaches did not see. I don't heavily advise running your own play as the punt protector, but when you see something open up on the field like that you have to take advantage of it."
Clement has taken advantage of many opportunities in his life, including growing up in an athletic, sports-driven family.
"My older brother and my younger brother were both better athletes than I was growing up," Clement said. "I use to get whupped by both of them, but having a competitive aspect in our family has made me what I am today."
But Clement's athletic family lineage and football career would not be what it is today without the influence of his uncle, Eric Andolsek.
Andolsek, a former LSU All-American and Detroit Lion offensive guard, was tragically killed by an 18-wheeler while trimming weeds at his home in Thibodaux. Clement was only two years old.
"My memory of Eric is blurry," Clement said. "I was really young when the accident happened and never got to know him, but my mom has kept him alive throughout my life. I had a Detroit Lion and LSU-themed room when I was growing up. My mom made sure I knew Eric was always with me no matter what."
Although Andolsek is no longer present to cheer on his nephew, there is no doubt he and Clement have developed a spiritual relationship revolving around football.
"When I know I'm in a bind or trouble, I just look back and know how much Eric would love to be here," Clement said. "It just kills me to know his life was ended that quickly. I use that as my motivation."
Taking this motivation to the field at 6-5, 265 pounds, face painted black, Clement is an intimidating presence as the Tigers' starting tight end, but a different ball game is played off of the field.
"I have a big heart," Clement said. "I care a lot about a lot of things. A lot of people look at me and see the Mohawk and mustache and think I'm a mean-looking guy, but I'm a nice guy. I'll be the first one to help you up or open the door for you."
With hopes of another national championship run in the future, Clement remains grounded in his humble bayou upbringing, despite the hype surrounding the 2012 Tiger football team.
"He has made a lot of people in Thibodaux proud," said Kyle Lasseigne, Clement's football coach at E.D. White High School. "Chase hasn't grown to be too big to come back to his roots."