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"He's gonna bring his own block": junior Cam Skattebo brings physicality to ASU's backfield

The former Sacramento State bell cow arrives in Tempe after a remarkable year including winning Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year in 2022


ASU junior running back Cam Skattebo (4) walking back to the locker room after a game against Southern Utah at Mountain America Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Tempe. ASU won 24-21.

Amid the Sun Devils' offensive ups and downs, junior running back Cam Skattebo has made a name for himself in Tempe with his consistency.

The 5-foot 10-inch, 225-pound back transferred to Arizona State following a remarkable season at Sacramento State. For the Hornets. His 1,382 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground were complemented by his 371 yards and three touchdowns through the air powered Skattebo to the Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year award in 2022. 

Skattebo has shown the potential to be ASU’s most valuable offensive player in his first two games as a Sun Devil. In 31 rushing attempts, he tallied 133 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his five receptions for 40 yards in the first two games. That’s good for 4.29 yards per carry and eight yards per reception. 

However, ASU’s lead back is not satisfied yet.

“I think I got more to do for sure," Skattebo said. "I got ten games left, but I’m not happy with my performance. Two touchdowns doesn’t mean much to me if you don’t win the game."

Skattebo's low center of gravity, high intensity, twitchy cuts and explosive bursts highlight his knack for making potential tacklers pay for trying to bring him down. Offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin had high praise for Skattebo's intensity and receiving ability after finally seeing him in game action for the Sun Devils. 

“I have a lot of respect for Cam," Baldwin said, "I’ve seen him play a lot of football. So some of his tracks, some of his runs where he can hit them, he can get better. His ball security can get better, but when it’s time to break a tackle and score like on the first one, he’s going to bring his own block. When it’s time to make a catch on third and five, he’s going to make that tough catch; he’s got great hands out of the backfield.” 

As Baldwin and Kenny Dillingham cooked up the game plan for Oklahoma State, they noticed a mismatch in how the Cowboys matched up against wildcat formation, which is when the ball is snapped to an offensive player who is not the quarterback. They ran the formation numerous times in the game, the most succuessful play being Skattebo's touchdown in the first quarter of Saturday night's game. 

ASU junior running back Cam Skattebo (4) walks into the end zone at Mountain America Stadium on Saturday, September 9, 2023, in Tempe. ASU lost to Oklahoma State 27-15.

Skattebo’s versatility offers the Sun Devils plenty of flexibility. He didn’t catch any passes against Oklahoma State, but his track record from last season at Sacramento State shows that fans should expect him to be a force through the air throughout the rest of the season.

Shaun Aguano, Arizona State’s running backs coach, said he liked Skattebo's versatility and his attitude. 

“Football intelligence wise, he’s very bright,” Aguano said on Sept 5. “I like his balance; I like the way he caught the ball out of the backfield. I like his ability to be vicious when he runs. Then, when I met him, he had a chip on his shoulder. That's what I liked.” 

As for the chip on his shoulder, Skattebo doesn’t have to look far to find his biggest motivator. 

“Honestly, myself,” Skattebo said. “If I come out here and have a bad day, I feel like I let myself down, and I feel like I gotta keep going. If I don’t have a good enough day, I know in my head, so I try to motivate myself as much as I can and not try and rely on anyone else.” 

Transferring to a different school can be intimidating, especially when going from the Big Sky to the Pac-12. Skattebo said he has connected well with his teammates, making plenty of new friends on the Sun Devils. 

“I like everybody. The defensive guys are really tight, I’m really tight with a couple of the defensive guys,” Skattebo said. “Trenton Bourguet is one of my closest friends as well.” 

Skattebo and the rest of the Sun Devils will have one more game before the marathon of Pac-12 conference play begins, against Fresno State this Saturday at Mountain America Stadium, with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. PST. 

Edited by Vinny Deangelis, Walker Smith, Shane Brennan

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