San Diego State senior quarterback Christian Chapman knows how to win football games.
With 23 wins against only six losses, Chapman is one victory away from replacing Ryan Lindley (2008-11) as the winningest quarterback in school history.
A a local product out of Carlsbad High School, Chapman said the chance at SDSU immortality is hard to fathom.
“It’s surreal. Something I did not think would ever happen coming here,” he said. “It’s always a dream for people, a goal. But to actually almost be there and on the cusp of obtaining it is crazy.”
Chapman has become a familiar face on the Mesa, having started 29 straight games under center. A streak which began with the final two games of his redshirt freshman season in 2015.
“It’s crazy how many games I’ve played,” he said. “A lot of people don’t play that much in college football. My coach in high school always said it’s a marathon, you might not play until your junior or senior year.”
Chapman’s current head coach, Rocky Long, said that his quarterback does not get the respect he deserves, and should be seen on the same level as other all-time SDSU greats.
“As long as he wins one more game as the starting quarterback, there’s an argument that he might be the best quarterback that ever played here,” Long said. “And not one person has ever said that but me.”
Chapman has shown throughout his career that he has the ability to do great things. His efficiency rating is the 17th best in the country since 2015, and he has never thrown for more than one interception in a game. Ever.
Still, Chapman has his share of detractors, who argue that his statistics are not good enough for him to be considered an elite quarterback.
Chapman has never thrown for 300 yards in a game, and in 13 starts last season he threw for over 200 yards only three times while throwing for under 100 yards on five separate occasions.
Long said that the only stat that should matter is how much a quarterback wins.
“I thought the criteria for being a great quarterback was how many games you win,” he said. “It’s not how many yards you throw for and all that kind of stuff, it’s how many games you win.”
Another factor that hurts Chapman’s statline is the Aztecs have been historically good out of the running back position the past two seasons.
In 2016 Donnel Pumphrey finished with 2,133 rushing yards, en route to becoming the most prolific runner in NCAA history with a career total of 6,405 yards.
Then, last season senior running back Rashaad Penny ran for 2,248 yards.
It was the first time in the history of college football that the same school had back-to-back 2,000 yard rushers.
Chapman said that while the Aztecs are historically a run-first team, his ability to sling it is still crucial to the team’s success.
“We’re a pro-style team, of course we run the ball first. But still, of course you’ve got to throw the ball,” Chapman said. “When I am called upon to throw the ball I need to be able to convert, move the chains to help those guys continue to do what they do.”
This year the starting running back will be junior Juwan Washington, Penny’s backup from a year ago who is expected to be the newest focal point of the offense.
Washington said having an experienced quarterback like Chapman makes all the difference.
“He’s a great guy to be around and he’s also smart,” Washington said. “He’s seen everything so he’s almost like a coach on the field, from the experience he has and he just knows everything.”
Chapman has undeniably left a legacy at SDSU, and in his swan song year he has one final goal: win a conference championship.
“My goal is to win another championship. I want to leave my legacy at this university on the right note,” Chapman said. “Be that tradition of winning.”
Chapman will get his first chance to set the record when the Aztecs take on Stanford University on Aug. 31 in Stanford, Calif.