Why RB Staden is one to watch this fall

IT CERTAINLY APPEARED a good get at the time but given this spring, when Washington State's running back corps was down to fielding walk-ons at practice, the importance of signing Chantz Staden this past February could take on added significance. Particularly when you consider he's a different type of back than his future roster-mates. And his fall camp preparation is leaving little to chance..

The current group of WSU running backs have some shift to their game but they're more the power runner types. Chantz Staden is the opposite -- a slasher who also has some power to his game.

"I think I can bring something different, something new to the table as far as my slashing goes," said Staden, who was in attendance to get a first hand view for the final spring practice in Pullman in April. "I think my type of game is a little different than the other fellas so we'll be able to mix well together."

De Anza JC head man Dan Atencio said Staden's sophomore season -- 766 rushing hashes, 855 receiving yards and a state-leading 2,123 all-purpose yards on his way to being named the All-Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year -- was crafted despite operating behind a less talented offensive line than in years past at the junior college.

THE COUGS' SPRING saw Wazzu's top four running backs miss significant time. Starter Dwight Tardy remains ahead of schedule and is expected to be ready to go for fall camp as he rehabs a knee injury. But timing, as they say, is everything, and though he was present at practice, he wasn't suiting up as the Cougs were installing their new no-huddle, up tempo offense.

Promising RB Chris Ivory missed about half the practices to concentrate on academics. Marcus Richmond and Logwone Mitz missed time with injuries. Note: Ivory last year dropped his semester class load to return home to be with his then ailing mother. He returned to WSU weeks later after her health improved but he's still making up credits. Into the situation comes Staden.

Incoming Cougar Chantz Staden (5-11, 205) over Memorial Day Weekend at a Roger Theder workout.

STADEN HAS SPENT just about every waking moment since he signed his Letter of Intent to Washington State focused on school and preparing himself physically for Wazzu's fall camp. He's scheduled to finish up his AA degree later this month.

"My last final here is June 27 so right after that, that weekend or the next week, I'm going to be heading up there," said Staden. I've got a big (class load)..but it's easier than I would have expected. Classes are going well...I've been busy with the books and on the field, trying to get ready for Division I."

When not studying, he's been tinkering like a mad scientist to find the perfect physical formula for himself. Staden said he's been training five days a week for the last three months or so, spending the hours on field drills, in the weight room, and with added emphasis on his form, endurance and strength conditioning.

He's bigger than he was last season -- but not too much.

"Last year, my playing weight during the season was about 195-200 -- now I'm at a stable 205. Last summer I went to about 210 but I think that was too big for me, I wasn't able to move quite as smoothly," said Staden. "I would like to be that three-down back, mix my power with my slashing and I can play the slot or wherever they needed. I'm getting chills talking about it. I can't wait to get up there.

"I want the coaches to know that I'm working my butt off and I want the people and fans at Washington State to know I'm working my butt off. I'm expecting the best for myself and the team. Whatever way is possible for me to make the team better, I'm willing to do it, special teams or whatever. I'm really excited, I can't wait to get up there."

STADEN RECENTLY MET UP with Kevin Lopina over Memorial Day Weekend. The Cougar QB, in the Bay Area for a few days to celebrate his great great aunt's 100th birthday, extended to Staden an invitation to join him a Roger Theder session. Theder is a nationally renown quarterback tutor but Staden said it was a valuable experience for a running back, too.

"Throughout he was giving us pointers as well, like (for example) what do look for in the zone when running the dig routes," said Staden.

It also gave him a chance to meet the Cougs' backup QB for the first time.

"I was excited to meet one of the players from Washington State let alone throw and run some routes with him, and create some chemistry early on. He's a cool cat and his family is really nice. He even offered me to stay with him for the first month in July," said Staden.

STADEN ALSO HAS an excellent set of hands for a running back and could provide the Cougs with another receiving weapon be it out of the backfield, potentially lining up elsewhere or coming in motion.

But based on the photos from the Theder workout, the question must be asked. What's up with the hair color?

"I just wanted to switch it up," Staden laughed.

"In the Bay Area, that's expected," cracked Lopina. "I've seen it so much I don't even notice it."


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