Ja'Quan Gardner doesn't put too much energy into thinking about the what-ifs.
The 2014 Central Valley High School grad earned a full-ride scholarship to Division-II Humboldt State following a remarkable three-year varsity career in football.
Diminutive in size as he stands just 5 feet, 7 inches, Gardner didn't receive any significant offers from D-I schools prior to signing with the Lumberjacks.
Ja'Quan could have attempted to join Fresno State's program as a walk-on player.
"I'm happy where I'm at," he said. "It's just a great place to be."
With Gardner leading the way, visiting Humboldt State upset defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion/17th-ranked Azusa Pacific 62-41 on Sept. 12.
"It's a big win for us," Ja'Quan said. "I feel like our whole team played a great game. We executed. Everybody was focused. It wasn't a conference game. We'll see them again. Hopefully, we get another victory."
For the second week in a row, Gardner earned GNAC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his dominance on the gridiron.
"We're focused on winning games and getting more national recognition as a team," he said.
Ja'Quan turned in another record-breaking performance.
He carried the ball 26 times for a career-best 229 yards and three touchdowns against Azusa Pacific.
Gardner ripped off TD runs of 8, 22 and 51 yards.
"He has a big heart, and our five guys up front love blocking for him," Humboldt State head coach Rob Smith said. "He is a tremendous talent. Last year we saw some of his potential, and over the first two weeks of this season, he has had back-to-back special performances."
Humboldt State improved to 2-0 on the year and climbed to No. 25 in the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll.
Gardner ranked third in rushing yards (430) at the NCAA Division-II level as of Sept. 18 .
"I give credit to my offensive line," he said. "They're working hard for me. They make my job easy. I just get the ball and run."
Gardner filled a key role as Humboldt State experienced a major turnaround last fall.
The Lumberjacks compiled an 8-2 overall record and tied for second place in the GNAC standings (4-2) with Central Washington (7-4, 4-2) and Western Oregon (6-5, 4-2).
Humboldt State dropped all 11 of its games in 2013.
Ja'Quan was selected to the all-GNAC Second Team his freshman year.
He ranked second on the team in rushing yards (607), touchdowns (8) and carries (88).
He averaged a team-leading 6.9 yards per carry.
Gardner caught eight passes for 125 yards and one TD.
He totaled 193 yards on six kickoff returns.
"I'm having fun," Ja'Quan said. "Last year, I didn't know what to expect competing as a true freshman. With experience, everything slows down. We want to win conference championships. That's on our minds. That's our motivation."