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Cam Skattebo: ASU's Humble Swiss Army Knife

Taylyn Hadley Avatar
November 5, 2023

Cam Skattebo has emerged as the top rusher for the Sun Devil Squad in the 2023 season, playing as a running back.

The 5-foot-10 junior serves as a versatile asset for ASU, acting as a true Swiss Army knife. Amid their less-than-stellar season, he stands out as a bright beacon of hope.

Skattebo leads the team in rushing yards but has also taken five snaps at quarterback, successfully completing three of them for a total of 60 yards, has 20 receptions, one solo tackle, five punts for 214 yards and eight touchdowns. 

A quick reminder – Skattebo is a running back.

Following a three-year stint at Sacramento State, Sun Devil fans can express their gratitude to former Sacramento State and current Stanford head coach Troy Taylor, as well as ASU running back coach Shaun Aguano for his addition to the Sun Devil roster.

“I obviously couldn’t get into Stanford just because they don’t take mid-years and stuff only the grad transfers,” Skattebo said. “So that was already obviously out the window.” 

The moment Skattebo entered the transfer portal, Aguano wasted no time in recruiting him, recognizing the significant void left in the lineup following the departures of Xazavian Valladay and Daniyel Ngata from the running back position.

“I thought it was a good position for me and a good spot that I could be in,” Skattebo said.

As a standout amid the Sun Devils’ 2-7 season, Skattebo has captured the hearts of ASU fans all around the nation in his first season suited up in maroon and gold. 

Fame is a magnifying glass

Although Skattebo was a fresh face to the 2023 squad, a testament to Aguano’s ability to earn high praise from all his running backs, regardless of how long they’ve known him.

“I feel like I’ve known him for years,” Skattebo said. “I mean, I’ve only known him for nine months now – 10 months… I feel like I’ve been playing for him for a couple years now and it’s not really a difference.”

After recruitment from a smaller school like Sacramento State, which competes in the Big Sky Conference, the most pressing question on my mind was how Skattebo was adapting to newfound fame as a Sun Devil.

Hailing from Rio Linda, California, a suburb of Sacramento, Skattebo’s decision to stay close to home and play at Sac State granted him a modest level of recognition as a Hornet.

“I mean I had a lot of, I would say, fame at Sac State just because I’m from Sacramento,” Skattebo said. “So, there’s a lot of people that already knew me out there.” 

He perceives the fanfare as a manifestation of love, a sentiment he insists he received in equal measure during his time at Sac State.

The level of recognition he has encountered at ASU is undeniably different from that which stemmed from fame by association and the acknowledgment of a hometown kid in Sacramento.

Sacramento is home to nearly 530,000 people – a staggering difference from Phoenix’s 1.5 million.

Now, he has a growing number of complete strangers who stand in the bleachers donning his name on their shirts and his face on their posters.

A stressor to most, the running back has become an expert in blocking out the noise and focusing on his game. 

“Obviously here it’s at a bigger scale, which is super cool,” Scattebo said. “I don’t really try to focus on it too much. I just got to play football and try to make it to the next level. I’m not really too into the fame side of it.”

Furthermore, it’s undoubtedly a contributing factor that Skattebo has reached a point where he refrains from setting any personal goals, be they short-term or long-term.

No goals, no pressure. Especially in an environment where many individuals set ambitious targets to gain recognition for their accomplishments in pursuit of fame.

“Once you start setting personal goals it will get into your head,” Skattebo said. “Keep looking forward and don’t focus on the past.”

Instead, he adopts a day-by-day approach, concentrating on his achievements as they unfold.

After all, he is shooting for the NFL. 

He cannot focus on the future too much or else he will miss out on the present and for Skattebo, the NFL is not a goal – it’s an inevitability.

He understands that if he allows a modicum of fame to sway him at this point, he may struggle to make the necessary adjustments when transitioning into a professional role.

“I’m just working hard every day”

Given the impressive performance Skattebo has demonstrated in his inaugural year as a Sun Devil, amassing 565 rushing yards on 127 carries and showcasing versatility in various positions on the field, it is highly likely that the junior will emerge as a top prospect in an upcoming NFL Draft.

Possessing a comparable physique and playing style to Christian McCaffrey, without the burden of injury history, Skattebo would make a valuable addition to any team’s roster.

At this point, the most effective way for him to prepare for his future is by remaining committed to the ASU team and steadily advancing toward his career objectives.

As he said, he does not set any personal goals. 

“I’m just working hard every day,” Skattebo said. “Coming out here every day (at) practice and making sure I can put a good product on the field for coaches that want me.”

In the end, football has always been Skattebo’s true passion.

He openly acknowledged that he wasn’t particularly focused on academics, even though he once proudly shared an impressive SAT score of 1220 on Twitter during his high school years.

A score that lands him in the top 78th percentile and could have landed him in over 1,200 universities with ease. 

In a surprising decision, Skattebo was on his way to major in anthropology at Sac State before switching over to Liberal Studies at ASU.

“It was super interesting, kind of really the only thing I found interesting in school,” Skattebo said. “So, I kind of took that path and then once I got here, they didn’t have the same thing… So, I switched up, but it was definitely a very interesting subject I was in when I was over there.”

Leaving behind his evolutionary knowledge and going all in on a career focused on the NFL, it is indeed a valuable advantage for him to be under the mentorship of Aguano who has a proven track record of propelling players to the next level.

Former players like Eno Benjamin and N’Keal Harry, who were coached by Aguano, have achieved success in the NFL. This provides Skattebo with the added motivation that he could be the next success story under Aguano’s tutelage.

Despite all his accomplishments and the promising future ahead of the young star, when speaking with Skattebo, you never detect any arrogance or conceit.

He is quiet and extremely humble. 

Skattebo tends to steer clear of responding to questions about himself, often redirecting them toward his team and he doesn’t exhibit much enthusiasm when required to partake in interviews.

His primary focus is on playing football and striving to be the best at his craft to the best of his ability.

Humility is the key to success

His unwavering focus on achieving success and his humility appear to be qualities instilled by the close-knit family he has maintained throughout his college journey.

The biggest obstacle for Skattebo in coming to ASU was not the fame, not the 53,000 seated Mountain America Stadium or the classes that he balances – it was being on his own for the first time. 

“I never left home, so that was different for me,” Skattebo said. “Sacramento State was 20 minutes away from my hometown.”

During his time at Sac State, he consistently stayed close to his childhood friends and family. Thus, making his transition into a new life that is nearly 11 hours away from it all being a challenging adjustment for the family-oriented individual.

Despite the increased distance, Skattebo’s family remains committed to attending as many games as possible. Furthermore, his grandparents occasionally make it to some games along with other close family-friends who show their support for the young rising star.

Above all, his parents make the most significant effort to rout on their running back in person.

“My dad comes to every game; He’s never missed a college game here and Sacramento,” Skattebo said. “My mom has made I think four or five games this year. So, she’s been to a couple of them, only missed one or two.”

Having family consistently present contributes to keeping him grounded and adds to his humble persona.

Skattebo is loud, rambunctious and hyped while in between the lines with his team, but the second he steps outside of the field, his demeanor changes to one of respect and humility.

Exiting the stadium after a game to the sight of a smiling family, it’s akin to the feeling of leaving a high school game and walking into the parking lot.

How could fame ever affect Skattebo’s demeanor when he knows that his family remains his biggest fans?

“I mean, I love it,” Skattebo said. “I love all of them and I appreciate all of them.”

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