BOONE — Bryce Satterfield is proof that a running back who suffers a disastrous knee injury in high school football can still play Division I college football.
Satterfield, who tore two ligaments in one knee during a 2019 football game, signed to play collegiately at Western Carolina on May 12 on a teleconference. He participated in a group signing with quarterback Anderson Castle (Appalachian State), Jake Watson (Mars Hill) and Jaiden Bond (Western Carolina).
The signings were held in the Watauga High School library and streamed on YouTube.
Satterfield and Bond are the latest Pioneers to become Catamounts. Offensive lineman Alex McConnell signed with Western Carolina in 2019.
Watauga coach Ryan Habich felt that Satterfield improved during his brief 2019 season in areas other than running the football.
“He became a better blocker as a running back,” Habich said. “He was able to catch the football a little bit better and there are some things that they require more on the college level.”
The three other Watauga signees were named All-Northwestern Conference for the 2019 season. Satterfield, who played running back for the Pioneers offensively, was injured at Jack Groce Stadium against visiting West Wilkes.
Satterfield was covering a kickoff when he was blocked at the knees while running down the left side of the field in the first quarter. He was helped off the field and left the bench at halftime in crutches.
Satterfield was out for the season. Watauga finished the season with a 13-2 record and reached the 3-AA state semifinals before losing to state champion Weddington in the Western Regional finals.
Satterfield had gained 35 yards on six carries and a touchdown against West Wilkes before his injury. Satterfield finished with 388 yards on 43 carries in 2019 and led Watauga in rushing in 2018 with 1,661 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was expected to shoulder much of the Watauga running game in 2019, but nearly didn’t get to Jack Groce Stadium.
“He was definitely a big-time player for us,” Habich said. “During a transition of moving he probably didn’t have the offseason he wanted in the weight room and everything else.”
Satterfield moved to Louisville, Ky., with his family, but moved back to Boone two weeks before the Watauga season began. Satterfield, who was a state finalist in the 400-meter dash in 2019, worked to rehabilitate his knee to run track and Watauga this spring, but the spread of the COVID-19 virus forced the cancellation of spring sports in North Carolina by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
“His knee is good,” Habich said. “He was going to run track and was cleared to run track and I saw him running a few times.”
Western Carolina, which plays in the Southern Conference, finished 3-9 overall last year, 2-6 in the SoCon. The Catamounts are coached by former Appalachian State assistant Marc Speir, who has been in charge of the Western program for eight years.