The Running Man

The San Diego Chargers saw something special in Chad Killian, running back who did not see a lot of action at Maryland. His ties to Coach Schottenheimer couldn't hurt either

San Diego's head coach is Marty Schottenheimer, formerly of the University of Pittsburgh and Fort Cherry High School. Killian's father, Paul, a standout at Tarentum High School, played at Pitt as a freshman while Schottenheimer was a senior.

While Killian was sidelined with injuries during the 2001 and 2002 football seasons, he was proud to be a part of Maryland's big football turnaround. The Terrapins were near the Atlantic Coast Conference cellar when Killian arrived at College Park. But the appointment of Ralph Fridgen as head coach paid off in bowl appearances each of the last two seasons.

"It gives you some confidence," Killian said of the signing. "After starting only nine games at Maryland, it's nice to have someone think so highly about you."

Killian was scouted by San Diego running backs coach Clarence Shelmon and will be listed on the roster as a fullback. But Killian's best shot at making the final cut could come on special teams. He remains grounded with that knowledge.

"Usually, the top draft picks are by positions, then the others and the free agents can make their way onto the roster by playing special teams," Killian said.

The Chargers will have about 85 players in camp. The rosters are winnowed down to 53 by opening day, and five players will be kept on the practice squad.

"People in rounds one through three, the team will usually give a year to develop," Killian explained. "But rounds four through seven and the free agents have to prove themselves immediately."

With that in mind he plans on working hard to make his dream come true. He knows the real deal and gladly accepts whatever role is warranted.

Schottenheimer was very confident when he claimed "I like to think that you look forward with us there will be ten rookie players on this football team in the season upcoming. That's combined Draft choices and free agents. There may be only four of them starting, but the other six are contributing in some fashion. They may not be on the active gameday, but at some point in time in there, they may make a contribution."

Killian will be well equipped to handle the fundamentals that Schottenheimer preaches. He had to deal with the same preaching in college and takes it as a blessing.

"Coach (Ralph) Fridgen's strict; if you're late for meetings, you run," Killian said. "The seniors are responsible for keeping the locker room clean. It's just those little things that add up."

Before heading to Chargers mini-camp, Killian needs eight more credits to graduate from Maryland in late May with a degree in Sociology.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net or via the following link: Denis Savage

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