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Weber State running backs coach Quinton Ganther guides Clay Moss (34) and Kevin Smith (4) during a practice drill on Aug. 22, 2017, at Wasatch High School in Heber City.

OGDEN — Quinton Ganther grew up embarrassed and frustrated.

His house in Oakland, California, had no running water and was infested with mice and roaches.

As a kid, the current Weber State assistant football coach was harassed and mocked by adults who were due money from his parents.

When his parents weren't in prison, that is.

"When people made fun of me like that, that drove me. I was a kid. I couldn’t change my circumstances. I was born into it," Ganther said. "I just wanted to prove everybody wrong. I hated the feeling of not having anything."

Now in his fifth year as running backs coach for the Wildcats, Ganther related that and other stories from his upbringing on a recent episode of the 'Cat Tales Podcast with WSU athletic director Jerry Bovee and media relations director Paul Grua.

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Weber State running backs coach Quinton Ganther (left, standing) speaks with player Treshawn Garrett (right, seated) during a game Nov. 18, 2017, at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.

Like how, when his parents scoured the Bay Area for stores to pilfer, Ganther was made to be their lookout — or made to go back with stolen merchandise to return it for cash they could use to buy drugs.

Or, when he thought he'd at least have some new clothes or shoes through his parents' schemes, he'd wake up the next morning and it had all been sold.

"Everyone thought I would not overcome it because my situation at home was so bad, but I believed in myself. I knew what I wanted. I worked hard to change my life," Ganther said on the podcast.

It's been a long path from there to here, where he's a respected mainstay on a staff raising the bar at Weber State.

Football, and an adoptive family that took him in at age 11, helped him pull out of that life. He's experienced quite a bit of success in the game.

Ganther played two years of junior college football before catching the eye of Urban Meyer, who was then the head coach at Utah.

He rushed for 654 yards in 2004 when Utah demolished everyone on its schedule on the way to an undefeated season and a win in the Fiesta Bowl. He returned in 2005 to rush for 1,120 yards before being drafted by the Tennessee Titans.

Ganther played for five NFL seasons and retired after the 2011 season.

He returned to Utah to finish school and worked as a student assistant for the Utes in 2012, helping Jay Hill coach the Utes' running backs.

"We started building a relationship and he saw how guys gravitated toward me and saw my coaching style," Ganther said.

He left the next year to play a similar role as an intern with the Seattle Seahawks' 2013 team that won the Super Bowl.

"Football has been my life," he said after a recent practice, while admitting he never saw himself as a coach until he was one. "I’ve dedicated my life to football because football has given me a way out of my situation. Football is everything to me and I can’t see myself away from the game."

When Weber State hired Hill in 2014, Ganther got a phone call.

He's been on the ride with the Wildcats since, leading to a 2017 season in which WSU had three players rush for at least 550 yards and three to average at least 5.3 yards per carry.

This season, the offense may lean on Ganther's running backs group to get going as it experiences a new scheme and new quarterback. All indications are that they'll be prepared.

"Q has a lot of passion for the game and I thought while he was here as a player that he’d make a great coach," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. "He works his butt off on the road recruiting. He’s a disciplinarian, and I think he’s got a bright future in this profession.

"He’s done a great job overcoming adversity. He’s gone through some tough situations. He’s a fighter. He’s a battler. That’s what Quinton is. He’s a survivor."

Ganther is now one of eight assistants on WSU's staff with ties to the University of Utah as the Wildcats prepare to kick off the season at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"I never thought I’d be on the other side in that stadium, but at this moment I bleed purple and we’re going down there to win, with a winning mindset," Ganther said. "But I’ll definitely have mixed feelings about it. That place has meant a lot to me."

The game kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday and will air on the Pac-12 Network. A Weber State radio call will air on 1430 AM KLO with Steve Klauke on play by play and Jerry Graybeal as a color commentator. A Utah radio call will air on ESPN 700 AM with Bill Riley and Scott Mitchell on the call.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net, follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and at facebook.com/brettheinwrites.

Brett Hein is the sports editor and covers Weber State sports for the Standard-Examiner.

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