In football, there are two choices, you can either initiate contact and hit, or you can tuck your tail between your legs and get hit. For Northern Illinois standout running back, Cameron Stingily, his mindset when he steps onto a football field is a simple one.
“Never get tackled by one person, or make sure that one person who did tackle me feels all 240 pounds of me,” Stingily said, according to Fred Mitchell of The Chicago Tribune. “I take pride in that, being the hammer instead of the nail. I feel embarrassed if I get tackled by one person, honestly.”
When he arrived on campus, he was labeled a linebacker by ex-head coach, Jerry Kill. But when Kill left, and Dave Doeren (now at NC State) took over the reigns, Stingily was unleashed as a rolling ball of butcher knives for opponents to tackle. Basically, any way you went about trying to bring him down, it was going to ache the next morning.
“I ended up getting injured, then Doeren came in,” Stingily said, according to Mitchell. “And he was like, ‘I want you to play running back,’ because he came from Wisconsin and he was telling me he loved big backs. That was right up my alley, so I said, ‘All right, I’ll do it.’ ”
He did it alright, and after hardly playing his first two years, in 2013 along with former Huskies’ quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist, Jordan Lynch, the pair led the Huskies to not only the school’s first, but the MAC Conference’s first ever BCS berth versus Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
With Stingily’s no nonsense running style, he logged 203 carries for 1,119 yards and a glistening 5.5 yards-per-carry average, allowing Lynch to run for 1,920 yards in his own right. That season, the two combined for the second-most rush yards by teammates in FBS history, catapaulting Lynch into the Heisman conversation. This past season, Stinigly added 971 more yards on the ground to go along with 14 touchdowns. His battering ram, take-no-prisoners approach to running the football is one he patterned after former Huskies’ running back and Pro Bowler, Michael Turner. Listed at 6-feet even and 240 pounds, he is at his best when running downhill, often craving contact and rarely being brought down by one tackler.
“He knows who he is,” current Huskies head coach, Rod Carey said, according to Mitchell. “That’s the best way to describe him. And his feet are better than they were last year. He is better at finding his way through there and keeping his feet moving. His pad level is dropping.”
After going undrafted, Stingily was invited to Pittsburgh’s rookie minicamp and did well enough to earn a contract Monday. It’s a good thing for him his big brother, Byron Stingily, is always there for advice and knowledge, as he’s entering his fifth year as a Titans offensive tackle.
“He just tells me that they will cut you quick up there if you aren’t doing what you are supposed to do,” Stingily said, according to Mitchell.
In a way, he is what the Steelers were looking for last offseason, when they signed mercurial running back, LeGarrette Blount, which obviously backfired on them. The team was obviously looking to add a bruising runner to not only give Le’Veon Bell a breather, but also to come in during short-yardage and clock draining situations. With Bell’s suspension to begin the year, and really only DeAngelo Williams behind him to carry the load, it’s very feasible that Stingily could enter the conversation if he impresses at OTA’s and training camp. And in a city with a history of bulldozing, plus-size running backs, he may fit in quite well.