When Taryn Christion arrived on South Dakota State’s campus in 2015, he told himself he wanted to be the best quarterback in Jackrabbits history. From the number of records he’s broken, it’s safe to say he’s accomplished that.
His player bio is extensive and requires a lot of scrolling. The honors and awards are 13 bullet points deep. Christion's career notes entering his senior season could be even longer, but it’s condensed down and states he holds SDSU career records in touchdown passes and total offense along with seven different single-season records.
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“It’s kind of how I approached things at Roosevelt (High School in Sioux Falls), is I wanted to be remembered as one of the best to ever do it,” Christion told HERO Sports. “Especially because if I’m doing that, it means my team is also doing great and they’re remembered for doing great things as well.”
His most impressive individual record was set a couple games ago, becoming the Missouri Valley Football Conference career leader in total offense by passing Matt Brown’s 10,952 yards set from 2009-2012 at Illinois State.
Christion now has 11,313 yards of total offense (10,000 passing, 1,313 rushing).
“I’m not consciously thinking about it every day or think about how I want to break this record, I want to do this or I want to do that,” Christion said. “It’s just what I want to do every day in practice to get better.”
Even with a ton of records already accomplished entering this season, Christion felt like he had something to prove. One reason is because SDSU made the semifinals last year but exited in ugly fashion with a 51-16 loss at James Madison. And second, his top two targets in wide receiver Jake Wieneke and Dallas Goedert were gone to the NFL.
“Ending last season was honestly the worst game I’ve ever played with having nine turnovers,” Christion said. “I was excited to move past that as the season started. It happened, but that’s not the player who I am and it doesn't define my career. And yeah, it was awesome to play with Jake and Dallas. But with them gone, I was excited to show that I’m still a great football player and we can still be a great offense.”
Christion found himself talking about who’s gone just as much as who’s coming back in the preseason.
“I knew in most interviews that was going to come up,” he said. “Being able to play with (Wieneke and Goedert), it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It doesn't happen a lot, especially at this level … I knew the questions were going to be coming that those two were leaving. What are we going to do without them? How are we going to function? But there was no doubt in my mind that there was still a lot of talent on this team.”
Once the season started, the Jackrabbits proved they were going to reload, not rebuild. They’re off to a 4-2 start and are still looked at as a Top 8 team in the national polls despite coming off a loss at Northern Iowa.
SDSU was ranked No. 2 heading into that game.
The offense continues to be explosive with guys like Cade Johnson and Adam Anderson stepping into bigger receiving roles and having a combined 57 catches for 1,009 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Jacks are averaging 41.8 points per game (ranked 6th in the FCS) and 285 passing yards a game (ranked 18th).
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“Even in spring ball, I knew what we had coming back,” Christion said. “The media and the outside people didn't see it because they were overshadowed by Jake and Dallas and how great they were. But I knew with the guys that I came in with my freshman year and the classes under me, now we’re going to be on the field making plays with those two gone.”
The Jacks look to battle back from their UNI loss with a game at No. 11 Illinois State and get back into the national title picture.
And that is exactly where Christion wants to be. He’s accomplished about as much as he can individually at SDSU. But there’s one thing out there that is still making his career feel personally unfulfilled.
“What we’ve been working for is getting to Frisco, playing in a national championship game and winning,” Christion said. “That’s really what’s on my mind right now. If I don’t accomplish that, I’d be pretty bummed out honestly. That’s what we’ve really put in all the work for, is to get there.”
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