Christion looks to cement legacy

John Begeman

Taryn Christion is coming off of one of his biggest games of his career — during which he threw six interceptions and fumbled three times in a 51-16 loss against James Madison in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinal.

If someone has been able to handle the highest of highs and lowest of lows – it’s  Christion.

“He’s mature enough not to have a chip on his shoulder from the James Madison game,” head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “I think he’s used that in the most positive way anybody could use it.”

In his first appearance since the JMU debacle, Christion torched the Montana State defense for 391 yards, four touchdowns and managed to take care of the ball — allowing zero turnovers. In that game, Christion became just the second player in Missouri Valley Football Conference history to surpass 10,000 yards of total offense.

In 2017, Christion experienced some career highs when he set a South Dakota State single-season record with 35 passing touchdowns.

Christion owns a 23-8 record as the fourth year starting quarterback and owns seven different single-season records.

Christion holds the passing yards record of 3,714 in 2016 and passing touchdowns when he threw 35 in 2017. The 6-foot-2-inch, senior also has SDSU career records for touchdown passes (72) and total offense (9,697 yards).

The James Madison game wasn’t the only road bump that Christion experienced in his football career.

Following his stand-out junior season at Roosevelt High School, when he had 3,537 total yards, Christion committed to play football at SDSU.

In 2015, during the third game of his senior year at Roosevelt, Christion suffered a season-ending injury.

“Getting injured was tough, it was a humbling experience — you never think that’s going to happen to you,” he said. “I couldn’t walk — some people can never walk. I learned to be grateful for what I had and the opportunity to play the game. It forced me to realize how much of an impact a person can have even if they aren’t on the field.”

That year, Christion went on to play basketball and run track his senior year.

Christion anchored the state-champion 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams at the 2015 South Dakota Track and Field Meet.

Coming into his first collegiate year, Christion knew if he worked hard he could win the second spot on the depth chart behind junior starting quarterback Zach Lujan — and that’s exactly what he did.

“Getting recruited, Coach [Eric] Eidsness told me I might have a chance to play here my freshman year, but it wasn’t just handed to me,” Christion said. “It took a lot of work studying film, reading the playbook and putting in reps. I won the second job and then Lujan unfortunately went down, but you’ve got to be ready when your chance is given no matter how that happens.”

Entering his sophomore year, Christion won the starting spot in fall camp over senior quarterback Lujan. 

“Even though I beat him out, I still learned so much from him on the sideline, and I like to take credit for his coaching career because he says he developed a knack for coaching that year,” Christion said with a laugh.

That year, Christion went on to put together one of the most impressive seasons a Jackrabbit quarterback has ever had.

As a sophomore, he set or tied 11 single-game or single-season school records on his way to becoming the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year and achieving third-team All-American honors.

In 2017, he threw for 35 passing touchdowns and 3,515 passing yards and he was named MVFC Offensive Player of the Week twice while also a finalist for both the 2016 and 2017 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award.

“He’s grown and we’ve had a lot of success with him and because of him,” Stiegelmeier said.

As his senior season progresses Christion and the team have one singular goal and that’s to be in Frisco, Texas come January for the FCS National Championship.