Running back Za’Quan Summers took the scenic route on his 3,000 mile journey to joining Portland State.
Three years ago, Summers was attending Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., where he was an all-district performer on the gridiron for two years. However, the lone scholarship offer he received came from Glenville State, a Division II school in West Virginia.
Yearning for more, Summers headed west to Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College, where the 5-foor-9, 175-pound speedster found a home, rushing for nearly 1,800 yards (1,070 yards as a freshman in 2013) and 16 touchdowns and catching 54 passes – 41 last fall – in two years.
He was MVP of last fall’s Valley of the Sun Bowl with 16 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns. In two years, Summers amassed 2,422 total offensive yards and 23 touchdowns.
“I felt it was best to get away from home,” Summers told Vikings Tales recently. “There are no junior colleges in Virginia with football. Scottsdale was the only school willing to take me in at the time, so I took the opportunity.”
By the time the 2014 season ended, schools such as Idaho, Georgia State, N.C. Central and Rutgers had expressed interest along with Portland State.
“I feel I had a very successful career at SCC,” Summers said. “I surpassed the 1,000 yard mark my freshman year and we went 10-1. My second year allowed me to display my catching ability. Overall, I felt my career there was great.”
Like many similarly-sized Division I running backs, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Summers believes he was overlooked by most schools during the recruiting process because of his lack of height.
“I just wanted to prove (at SCC) I could play big time ball,” Summer said. “I felt I was overlooked because of my size, but at the end of the day I still found a home in PSU.”
Instead of heading back east when his time at Scottsdale was over, Summers headed to the Pacific Northwest, undeterred by the intense competition at the Vikings running back spot with Steven Long, Nate Tago and Rey Vega already part of the team and high schoolers Chase Morrison and Carlos Martin en route this summer.
“I would describe myself as a speedster with good patience, vision and versatility,” Summers said. “My favorite running back is Jamaal Charles, so I try to emulate what he does on the field.”
Summers runs the 40-yard dash in about 4.33 seconds and has been timed in the 100 meters at 10.86 seconds.
First things first, though. Summers’ top priority during the early stages of spring practice is mastering the Portland State offense.
“What convinced me (to sign with PSU) was the fact that I knew I was wanted here,” Summers said. “I also liked the business opportunities that come with attending the university.
“My goals for spring practice are to come in and get the offensive system down, form a bond with my teammates and coaches and have great competition in the backfield.”
Summers, a budding entrepreneur, is competitive in many areas of his life, particularly football and assumingly his future business career. One of his life’s goals: “Live like Trump.”
“Donald Trump is a very successful and wealthy individual and I hope to one day live a life similar to his,” Summers said.
While Summers is a fan of Charles, who has five 1,000-yard season with the Kansas City Chiefs, Portland State interim head coach Bruce Barnum was mesmerized watching Summers’ film and compared him to an all-time NFL great – Barry Sanders.
“We’re not going to turn away great football players,” Barnum said. “When we turned on the film during recruiting season we said, ‘Wow!”
High praise, indeed.
“With that comment, I know there is definitely big expectations,” Summers said.
Summers lists an interesting hobby – going to “burger joints.” He intends to keep pursuing that hobby in Portland with the blessing of the Vikings coaches.
“Burgers come from the gods,” Summers exclaimed. “They’ve been supportive of my hobbies. They’ve actually given me a couple of locations with some bomb burgers. I just feel they’ll want me to lower the number of burgers I eat, if anything.”
— Kickoff time for the April 25 spring football game has been scheduled for 2 p.m. at Stott Community Field. Admission to the game is free. Portland State Athletics Director Mark Rountree will be hosting a Spring Game Tailgate with food, drinks and music starting at 1:30 p.m. for season ticket holders, Viking donors and sponsors. Fans are welcome to bring lawn chairs to the game for seating. Interim head coach Bruce Barnum plans to run an offense vs. defense format in the spring game.
REMAINING SPRING FOOTBALL PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
April 9 (7-9 a.m.)
April 10 (3-5 p.m.)(Scrimmage, 80-90 plays)
April 13 (7-9 a.m.)
April 14 (7-9 a.m.)
April 16 (7-9 a.m.)
April 17 (3-5 p.m.)(Scrimmage)
April 20 (7-9 a.m.)
April 21 (7-9 a.m.)
April 23 (7-9 a.m.)
April 25 Spring Game at Stott Community Field, 2 p.m.
Reach Scott Hood at ScottHood63@gmail.com