JC coaches: Cougs land true talent

RECRUITING IS ABOUT turning over rocks and finding hidden gems and if his head coach and offensive coordinator are right, WSU has unearthed one in a JC running back out of California. Out of De Anza College in Cupertino, the 5-11, 200 pounder is described as an explosive runner, and one who led the state in all-purpose yards due to a nifty set of hands. CF.C talks to player, his head coach and OC.

Chantz Staden (5-11, 200, 4.5) came across Washington State's radar late -- new man Paul Wulff and his staff didn't come on at Washington State until December.

WSU coaches Steve Broussard, himself a former Cougar great running back, and Malik Roberson had their interest peaked, got hold of Staden's transcripts, received the go-ahead from Wulff and Washington State offered a scholie in a relatively short time frame, said Staden.

It took even less time for Staden to verbally commit to the Cougars.

"Washington State called, and it was out of the blue," said Staden. "I knew that first good opportunity I got, I was going to take it. I didn't know it would be in the Pac-10 but I was hoping for something like that. And when they came to me, there was no doubt in my mind that I would want to play at Washington State.

"I didn't know much about the University at first when I got the call from them but then I researched Washington State. I found out they had a new staff and it just felt right. And I'm going to give them all I've got."

STADEN GAVE QUITE an offensive performance this past year in his first season at De Anza after a freshman campaign at Foothill. In '07, Staden was named the All-Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year, leading the state of California in all-purpose yards with 2,123 yards in 10 games.

He carried the ball 167 times for 766 yards while averaging 17.1 yards a catch -- 50 receptions for 855 yards. To his totals he added 391 yards on kickoff returns, plus 10 punt returns for another 110 hashes. Staden was also second in the state in touchdowns and in scoring this past season.

Staden said that Wulff is coming by for an in-home visit with him on Wednesday, and Staden will then trip up to Pullman on his official visit this coming weekend.

WASHINGTON STATE likes Staden at running back, said De Anza head man Dan Atencio, but with the Cougars going to a no-huddle, multiple formation spread offense, added he won't be surprised to see Staden also making plays coming in motion, out of the slotback receiver position or elsewhere.

"He's a very explosive athlete," said Atencio. "He's got a real quick burst. He's exceptionally fast and he has very good hands. He played tailback, and he can play slot.

"He's one of the best players we've had here at De Anza."

Offensive coordinator Tony Santos agreed.

"Physically, he doesn't look like like it but he's a good combination of power and speed -- Washington State kind of beat everybody to the punch because he was a late transfer," said Santos. "Auburn was showing a lot of interest and said it was between him and (another player) and Tulsa was also very interested in him.

"Talk about versatility...he caught, in high school his junior and senior years, 102 balls. His freshman year at Foothill he caught 37, and then last year he caught 50."

ALTHOUGH THE NEW STAFF at Washington State came late to the Pac-10 recruiting trail this year, and that they're behind when compared to the numbers of verbals at other schools, Wulff has said since the day he first got the job that the priority for this class and for future classes remains -- to recruit high character athletes. Atencio and Santos say WSU has that base covered in Staden.

"It happened pretty quick," said Atencio of WSU's interest. "The new staff got there from Eastern Washington...they saw the film and the head coach liked him, the running backs coach and the recruiting coordinator liked him... and boom, they jumped on it, gave me a call and asked me what kind of character he had."

"He's a great kid, both personally and morally. He's a great leader both in the weight room and on the field. He's been a role model and an example to all our players," said Atencio. "You hear that all the time, 'He's a really good kid,' but he really is, he's an exceptional kid...and he's very good in the classroom."

"The best thing is he's a great kid," Santos summed up.

Staden is on pace to graduate in June -- De Anza is on the quarter system with the spring term ending June 27 -- and will have 3-to-play-2 for Washington State.

Staden becomes the tenth known verbal in the Cougars' 2008 class.

Chantz Staden profile

IN HIGH SCHOOL, Staden was an offensive force and and highly regarded defensive player for Westmont High, scoring 20 touchdowns and logging 2,224 all-purpose yards in 10 games his senior year while intercepting seven passes. He earned numerous accolades and honors. So why did college recruiters not come after him? The answer is they backed off when it looked like he might not qualify, and that indeed turned out to be the case.

So Staden went the junior college route, first to Foothill and this past season at De Anza where he continued to pile up the yardage. But until WSU offered, he was worried he might be overlooked again, despite having eliminated the academic concerns this time around.

"I've been at this football thing for a while and in high school, I was regarded as one of the best players in the state," said Staden. "But I wasn't really recruited by any Division I teams and it was a little depressing. So I went to junior college saying this was my last chance to meet my goals.

"This past season, I had another great season but in the beginning I still wasn't being pursued by big Division I schools like I had hoped. But then Washington State called."

De Anza ran a spread offense this past season and moved Staden around -- and in some of the ways WSU might -- in the backfield, in motion and out of the slot. Indeed, Staden told Atencio he transferred to De Anza because of the similarities in their offense to the one he thrived in back in high school.

As seen statistically, it worked out well, not just in terms of this past season but in looking forward to the future.

"He told me, 'Coach, I really believe I wouldn't have gotten a scholarship to Washington State if I (hadn't come here.') He just felt more comfortable in the offense here. Chantz can play tailback, he can play receiver. People tried to isolate him, double cover him, and we would just put him in another spot," said Atencio.

"I'm just really grateful and thankful for this opportunity," said Staden. "A scholarship has been the dream for me and I can't thank enough everyone who has helped me and believed in me along the way."

BUT THE ONE THING Atencio said he's stressed to Staden since he verballed was that this is a beginning and not an end.

"I told him now that he has that scholarship, the work has only begun," said Atencio. "These guys at Washington State have put a lot of trust in you, faith in you, a money investment -- you've got to get in the weight room, which he is, and you've got improve on every weakness.

"And when you got to Washington State, you have to be in the best shape and condition you've ever been in your life and make those guys right. Go prove to them they made the right decision."

  • Atencio and Santos said in one game this season, Staden had six touchdowns, although two were called back due to penalty. During that game, Santos said Staden made 45 would-be tacklers miss. "We counted them on film and we couldn't believe it. Guys were just grabbing air," said Santos.

  • At a JC combine this summer, Staden benched 225 pounds 21 times and squatted 315 pounds 20 times, said Santos.

  • His junior year in high school, Staden was first team all league as a receiver, with 2,469 all purpose yards. His senior year, he was first team all-league as a defensive back and first team all-state as a utility player, said Santos.

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