By Anne M. Peterson
The Associated Press
No. 21 Utah at Oregon State
When: 1 p.m. Saturday TV: Pac-12
Line: Utah by 9½
CORVALLIS — Oregon State cornerback Treston Decoud is the embodiment of perseverance.
From an arduous childhood in Louisiana to his mother’s cancer battle and then a circuitous journey to Corvallis, Decoud has been undeterred. He refused to wallow in self-pity even after a serious concussion last year.
“It’s made me stronger, it’s made me wiser,” he said. “I don’t take any of this for granted.”
As a senior this season, Decoud is hoping to grab the attention of NFL scouts. He got off to a promising start when he was named Pac-12 defensive player of the week following two interceptions — one of which he returned 75 yards for a touchdown — against Idaho State in the Beavers’ second game. It ended a 22-game streak without a pick for a Beavers cornerback.
Decoud was also effective last weekend in Oregon State’s 47-44 overtime victory over California. He broke two passes as the Beavers held Cal to 124 yards passing — well off the Bears’ 428-yard average going in.
The 6-foot-3 Decoud limited Cal’s top receiver, Chad Hansen, to just four catches for 16 yards, at one point even wagging his finger “no” after preventing a catch.
“He has grown and grown and grown. He’s a (junior college) guy you wish you had for another year,” Beavers coach Gary Andersen said. “To see his face in the locker room was special. He went against a very talented player. There was some give and take, but I thought Treston was solid all day long.”
Decoud’s breakout senior season and the recognition that has come with it cap a winding road to the Pac-12 from Decoud’s native Louisiana.
As a child, circumstances often left him with no stable place to live. But he excelled at football at Lakeshore High School near New Orleans, garnering attention and offers from such schools as Texas Tech and Southern Miss.
He could not make grades, however, so he wound up at NCAA Division II Chadron State in Nebraska. He redshirted his freshman year but began to emerge as a sophomore.
That is when tragedy struck. His mother, Chandrika, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Decoud transferred to Nicholls back in Louisiana to be there for her.
But after he played spring football with the Colonels, the NCAA refused to grant him immediate eligibility. Afraid that his football career was passing him by, Decoud transferred to Northwest Mississippi Community College.
He got Oregon State’s attention with six interceptions, and he joined the Beavers last year.
“When you come to Corvallis, there’s school and football, so I’m able to focus,” he said. “Coming from a juco that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to get a degree and I wanted to play football.”
But his junior season would bring a new challenge. In a game against Colorado on Oct. 24, Decoud went down after colliding with fellow Oregon State cornerback Dwayne Williams.
He was unconscious for more than five minutes. An ambulance took him from the field and to the hospital.
Even though he returned to the locker room before the game ended, it was clear to him that things were not right. The next day he showed up dressed and ready for practice — and it was the Beavers’ day off.
But once again, he picked himself up and went back at it. He missed two games because of the concussion before finishing out the season.
“I think God put me through all these trials and tribulations for a reason, and I’m thankful for that, because it made me a stronger man, made me a better person,” he said.
Decoud proclaims proudly that his mom is now cancer-free.
“I’ve faced the worst adversity the world can give you, and that’s the possibility of losing your parents,” he said. “I think if you can overcome that, you can overcome anything. I just gotta keep working and put my mind to it.”