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Meet college football's unlikeliest player: 39-year-old DT Andy Staten


There's something unusual about Culver-Stockton College (NAIA - MO) defensive tackle. He stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs 295 pounds. He wakes every morning with tremendous back pain. He has two child support payments. And he turns 40 years old later this month.

Andy Staten signed with Ferris State out of high school but, by his own admission, did not take school seriously. "I just wasn't ready," he told Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free-Press. Not long after, he suffered a broken back during a head-on collision, and then spent 15 years in manual labor. Add in the fact that he has two 16 and 12-year-old sons, and Staten is easily the unlikeliest player to currently buckle a chin strap in college football today. 

Staten grew up in a football family as the son of a longtime high school coach in Michigan. His brother, Mark, coaches the offensive line at Michigan State, and it was he who breathed life into his older brother's career. Andy initially resisted, but a desire to spend the rest of his life doing something less taxing than cutting down trees for a living. 

Staten is now making the most of his impossible second chance, serving as something of a walking, talking coaching point for teammates young enough to be his sons.

"The payoff is in the classroom, where Andy has a 3.4 grade-point average and has embraced the opportunity to learn again," Rexrode writes. "He mentors his young teammates — he lived in a fraternity house his first year and now lives in a dormitory — and warns them against being too focused on revelry and not enough on responsibility, as he was at their age."

Staten lives in the dorms during the season, and returns home to Dowagiac, Mich., for the summers, where he sells cars and lives with his parents and sons. Through it all, the back pain remains. 

"It takes a special kind of person to do this," said trainer Rob Carmichael. "He plays with pain, he plays with swelling — probably against my better judgment at times. But if it’s a risk he’s willing to take, that’s his decision."

Read the full story here.