All signs are pointing up for Carlsbad’s Christian Chapman.
“It’s crazy,” he said.
Chapman, San Diego State’s senior quarterback, is front-and-center in more ways than one this season. After years of being a complementary piece to standout running backs Rashaad Penny and Donnel Pumphrey, it’s Chapman’s time to stand tall.
And that includes looming over San Diego County on billboards.
“To see my picture up there, well, it’s crazy,” Chapman said.
What’s nuts is the success SDSU has had with Chapman at the helm as the starter. He’s directed the program to at least 10 wins in three consecutive seasons, a first time for the school on Montezuma Mesa.
That’s not accomplished minus a steely leader under center as it’s a streak only six other teams are enjoying.
If in the business of winning at the collegiate level, it’s never bad for SDSU to be on a list that includes Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
So Chapman is a key part of SDSU’s marketing push as it preps for its opener against visiting Stanford on Aug. 31.
With the Chargers spiking San Diego from their name, the Aztecs are driving a point home with a local in Chapman. Around the oversized picture of Chapman preparing to pass is this message: “One City. One Team. Aztec Football lives here.”
Chapman is among seven returning starters on offense, a unit which includes a keen front line led by Keith Ismael, who shared the team’s freshman player of the year award last season, and Tyler Roemer, the squad’s top lineman in 2017.
Running back Juwan Washington will be a weapon as he follows in the cleat marks of Penny and Pumphrey. And there’s no doubt coach Rocky Long loves his attack to hug the ground.
But some of those yards will fall on Chapman’s shoulder pads, with a passing game that features an experienced operator.
When Chapman faces Stanford, it will be his team-high 30th consecutive start. How quickly Chapman has traveled from being a two-time All-Avocado League player for the Lancers to lacing up his cleats for his final season at SDSU.
“Time flew by and I’m blessed to get that many starts and play that much ball here,” Chapman said. “I’m excited for the future to keep things rolling and I’m happy for the success I’ve had over the last few years.”
It’s because of his production, and the way Chapman carries himself, that he represented the Aztecs at the Mountain West Conference media day.
“You pick players that have earned the respect by the way they have played and the way they have acted,” Long said.
The long view of this year’s Aztecs lends itself to Chapman’s persona. He’s intent on finding victories, not the spotlight.
“We don’t have any big-name stars, All-American players,” Long added. “We just have a bunch of football players where the team comes first.”
That’s cool for Chapman, who owns a nifty 23-6 record and the highest winning percentage (.793) in school history.
“It’s crazy for me to think of where I was to where I am now,” Chapman said. “To represent my community, family and friends and to be the hometown guy that people look up to when I go back to Carlsbad is great.
“At all the camps the kids were coming up to me and that meant something because I was that little kid once. So now being the guy they look up to, and to be kind of a role model, that really means a lot to me.”
Which is always a good sign.
Contact Jay Paris at email@example.com. Follow him @jparis_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports