0804 Treshawn Chamberlain

Emerald alumnus and Rice freshman Treshawn Chamberlain, second from left, runs after a ball carrier during a game Oct. 13 against UAB.

Learning the complexities of the defensive playbook proved to be an early challenge for Emerald alum Treshawn Chamberlain during his freshman season at Rice.

But once Chamberlain began to make the defensive concepts become second nature, he saw immediate results on the field.

Chamberlain took over as a starting linebacker for Rice during the second half of the season and made 50 total tackles on the year with 3 1/2 for loss. He made his first career start against the University of Texas at San Antonio on Oct. 6, 2018.

Chamberlain said he adjusted quickly to the speed of the game at the college level. Once he fully got the playbook down, Chamberlain felt his game rise to another level.

“I feel like the key was getting into my playbook, learning the ins and outs of the entire defense,” Chamberlain said. “Just knowing what other positions do, it helped me be more physical and more accurate. Once I was able to learn the playbook, everything started moving quicker for me. I feel like that was the key to getting the starting spot.”

Chamberlain shined in a late-season game against then-No. 7 LSU, recording a season-high 10 tackles in a 42-10 loss. Chamberlain made 30 of his 50 tackles in the final four games of the season.

“I’d say my best game was against LSU because it was one of my more physical games, with me going against bigger guys, and bigger tight ends,” Chamberlain said. “I feel like I performed pretty well against adversity in that situation.”

Chamberlain played in all 13 games last season and was named a Conference USA All-Freshman selection. He didn’t expect to make such an impact this early in his career.

“I think (my season) went pretty well,” he said. “It was a better start than I anticipated coming up here. With everything from fighting for a starting spot, to how we progressed as a defense, I feel like my freshman year was a good start for me.”

Heading into the upcoming season, Chamberlain will be looking to build off his successful freshman year at a new position — safety.

Chamberlain has shown his football versatility in the past. He was a two-time team offensive MVP for Emerald and rushed for 2,180 yards and 28 touchdowns in his high school career.

Now, Chamberlain is expected to see time at safety in his sophomore season. This season, Rice’s defense will play in schemes that will call for a fifth and sometimes sixth defensive back, which could be Chamberlain or another defensive player.

“I’m hoping to build on the aspect of being more of a safety instead of a linebacker,” he said. “So, improving on my hips, improving on my footwork, learning better techniques in man coverages so I can be more versatile for the defense and use more all-around skills.”

Chamberlain has also enjoyed his time on the Rice campus in Houston.

“It’s a good atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a big change from Greenwood, moving from a small city to such a big city where everywhere you look, you see sky-high buildings. The humidity down here makes it much hotter, but adjusting to this city was pretty fun to do. I think I’m finally getting used to it.”

Contact sports writer Wesley Dotson at 864-943-2530 or follow him on Twitter @WesleyPDotson.