Andy Staten returns to college, gridironPublished 4:29pm Thursday, September 6, 2012
At 38 years old, Dowagiac’s Andy Staten isn’t your typical college freshman.
Then again, Staten never really has done things the conventional way.
A standout football player and wrestler at Dowagiac Union High School, Staten graduated in 1993 and went to Ferris State University where he spent one year as a red-shirt.
He left Ferris and went into the construction business where he stayed until he was given a chance to play college football again.
“I was living the basic blue collar life,” Staten said.
Then came a call from Culver-Stockton College coach Jeff Duvendeck. It was a call that changed his life.
“I was out in the real world for 17 years and then this thing happened,” Staten recalled. “Coach Duvendeck was a grad assistant at Michigan State and he knew my brother Mark who was an assistant coach there. He called my brother and asked him if he knew of any big guys that they weren’t looking at and he gave him my name.”
Staten added that the entire thing came from a conversation last fall at a Michigan State game.
“Mark always has a bunch of guys up for a game each year and at last year’s Indiana game a guy said I looked like I could still play. I told him I would like to play again. It was like a 20 second conversation. I didn’t think anything more about it.”
Then came the call from his brother, who told him he was about to receive a phone call.
“That’s how I got here and now I’m the starting nose tackle,” Staten said.
He went to Canton, Mo. in March and was offered a full ride.
“This gives me an opportunity to finish my degree,” Staten said. “I was sick of construction. This opens up a new chapter in my life.
“It’s definitely interesting being around these kids. They call me pops or dad, but they know when it comes to being out on the field, I can get the job done.”
Staten knows that he still has the love and the desire to play football. That passion never left him over the 19 years away from the game.
“I’m the oldest guy on the team other than our strength and conditioning coach,” Staten said. “I’m two years older than the head coach. I told them that I didn’t want to be treated any differently.”
Culver-Stockton opened their season with a 28-17 loss on the road to Graceland University. Staten didn’t play in front of a crowd of strangers.
“My dad (Jerry) was there of course and (former teammate) Averill Ruiz came and supported me,” he said. “That was great.”
Being that his has been away from football and college for almost two decades, Staten realizes the values the chance he has received.
“Scholastically I am doing the best I have ever done in college,” Staten said. “I take the studies more seriously now. I have even been asked to be a tutor in my history class. I am really pushing the academics.”
Staten is in the fitness/physical education program concentrating on strength and conditioning. He will have an internship at either South Florida or Michigan State in his immediate future.
Staten said that the entire process of going from the working world to college football has been an adjustment.
“Talk about a shot to the system,” he said. “I’m coming off a 19 year vacation. My upper body is fine. I rolled my ankle the first week, so now I live in the training room. Being on the interior defensive line is a tough position. You see a lot of double teams.”
The Wildcats will open the home portion of their 2012 schedule against Peru State College Saturday.