When you call up Chantz Staden’s cell phone, the line doesn’t ring – you hear Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”
That’s the kind of kid he is, said Dan Atencio, his football coach at De Anza College in Cupertino, Calif. The 19-year-old running back isn’t close to stopping, and he’s planning to come to Washington State.
“He’s a real good kid, he’s a hard-working kid, he’s a humble guy,” Atencio said of his sophomore star. “And he fully understands he’s going to a Pac-10 school and he’s fulfilling his dream.”
Ever since he was 9 years old, Staden dreamed of winning an athletic scholarship at a Division I school. Now he has one, he said.
Throughout this past fall – as he topped the California Community College Athletic Association in total yards, averaging 212.3 yards and 11 points per game – Staden hoped he’d be a hot prospect for recruiting. When January hit and he still didn’t have any Division I offers, he initiated contact as a last-ditch effort.
That’s when Washington State found him – and the next day offered him a spot on the Cougars football team, he said.
“I almost started getting down on myself when it wasn’t going through,” Staden said. “But when I got the offer it was a relief.”
He is joining the Cougars’ roster as a running back, but at De Anza he played a number of positions. Staden played in the slot, as a wide receiver, tailback, punt returner and kickoff returner, Atencio said.
After rushing for 766 yards in 167 carries and catching 50 passes for 855 yards, Staden received first-team All-American honors from JC Grid-Wire for the 2007 season.
“A guy like that gives you a lot of options because he can also be used as a decoy,” Atencio said. “You give him the ball, he’s explosive.”
Staden said he thinks his skill will mesh nicely with new WSU head coach Paul Wulff’s no-huddle spread offense. The coaches, Staden said, liked that he showed multiple ways of getting his hands on the ball, off screens and routes, in addition to getting handoffs in the backfield.
“I like the coaches a lot,” he said. “Especially (running backs) coach (Steve) Broussard. He’s a real cool guy. He’s down-to-earth.”
Broussard, who can’t talk about specific recruits until national letter of intent day on Wednesday, said he is excited for WSU’s recruiting class. Without recruits, he essentially would have four running backs this fall: Dwight Tardy, Christopher Ivory, Marcus Richmond and Logwone Mitz.
Injuries kept Tardy (knee) and Ivory (concussion) out of steady rotation this past fall.
Ivory is ready to play, Broussard said, and Tardy’s ACL injury will show its long-term effects once he can practice again in August.
“I think that I’m bringing in recruits to get a chance, to get more running backs, to get more depth,” Broussard said. “We don’t have depth.”
So, those running backs coming in next season, including Staden, could see some playing time. While recruiting, Broussard wasn’t looking for a specific type of running back, just one who has the spirit to play with the Cougars.
“I’m looking for football players,” Broussard said. “I’m looking for kids that know the game … whether he’s quick and darty or big and physical.”
Staden, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound prospect, visited Pullman on Jan. 19 – a cold, snowy weekend that showed him just how different life on the Palouse could be from his hometown of San Jose. He liked Pullman, despite its smaller size, and how he felt supporters want the football players to succeed on the field and in the classroom.
He plans to study sport management, to someday become a coach or a teacher, he said.
“I can’t wait to get up there,” Staden said of Pullman.
This spring and summer, he’ll be conditioning and getting ready to play in the Pac-10. The conference is quite the step up from his playing days at Westmont High School in Campbell, Calif., or his year at Foothill College and a second at De Anza.
Staden said he is nervous but excited.
“I’m up for a challenge,” he said. “This is what I live for. I’m going to work hard.”
Never plagued by serious injury, Atencio said, Staden’s not going to stop.
He hasn’t yet had enough.