Chatfield standout Sam Backer finds home at MSU, Mankato

Chatfield's Sam Backer totaled 3,117 all-purpose yards and 51 touchdowns at quarterback as a junior this past season for the Class A state champion Gophers. The incoming senior announced Monday that he will play college football beginning in 2023 at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Chatfield’s Sam Backer (21) reacts after scoring a touchdown during a Class AA football state quarterfinal game against Minneapolis North on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo
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CHATFIELD — One of the area's most impactful prep football players has decided on the next chapter of his career.

Chatfield High School standout Sam Backer has committed to traditional Division II powerhouse Minnesota State University, Mankato to play football, announcing via his Twitter page Monday.

The Mavericks offered Backer on June 1 but had been in contact with him since he was a freshman. The result was a coaching staff that grew to be like family to Backer.

When the offer came from Mankato, it was almost too good to be true.

"I grew up knowing that Mankato was the powerhouse," Backer said. "It was just kind of cool right when I got that offer, I was like, 'Dang, Minnesota State, Mankato offered me. That's pretty crazy.' That's how I saw it."


Backer also knows the area well, having gone to the Minnesota Vikings training camp in Mankato as a child. His father graduated from MSU as well.

Combined with the chance to play running back at the next level, Backer knew it was the place to be. He officially made that decision on Sunday, committing to the coaching staff on a campus visit.

"I committed (Sunday) on campus, right after I went to their camp," Backer said. "It was just all icing on the cake with the coaches all being there. They were treating me really well, and I finally got the chance to talk to each and every one of them. I was feeling really good. I'm on campus right here. I love it here and I love these guys. I'm going to make it happen."

A two-time district player of the year, Backer is coming off his best season.

The junior was switched from running back to quarterback after a few games, but continued to utilize his legs. He finished with 2,384 yards rushing and 34 rushing touchdowns, while recording 3,117 all-purpose yards and 51 TDs.

A two-way player, Backer could play offense or defense at the next level, but the Mavericks told him the chance to play tailback is available.

"They told me I have a lot of skill sets," Backer said. "So they kind of almost made it seem like it was my own choice kind of in a way but I basically told them, 'I love running back, and I'd appreciate it if I could play running back here'. And they're like, 'Yeah, well, we'll take you as running back then.'"

Backer also holds an offer from the University of Sioux Falls and had junior-day invites with South Dakota State University and North Dakota State University.


Backer is not only one of southeastern Minnesota's top football players, but also among its top track-and-field sprinters. Backer won the Section 1A 100-meter dash with an 11.1 clocking this past season. It led to an uptick in recruiting activity.

"I think the track season definitely helped because, well, when I posted some of the clips of my races and then throwing out the numbers on Twitter, the coaches would DM me and would ask my name and I'll just be like, 'Oh, wow.' Way more in my business," Backer said.

But that connection he made with the Mavericks coaching staff was simply too strong to pick anywhere else.

"When they offered me it was one of the top choices just right off the bat," Backer said. "I grew so close to them, their coaching staff and just the people in the program. They treated me way better than any other coaches that have talked to me and they kind of like made it feel like home."

Alex VandenHouten has been a sports reporter at the Post Bulletin since Sept. 2021. He loves to go hiking, biking, snowshoeing and just simply being outdoors with his wife Olivia. Readers can reach Alex at
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