Outside the Twin Cities, there’s plenty of talent to be found. Meet five players from small schools who have big plans for 2022:
Sam Backer, Chatfield, quarterback/running back, senior, 5-11, 190
Amassed more than 3,000 all-purpose yards in 2021 and guided the Gophers to the Class 1A title despite sitting out the championship game because of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the semifinal. His real strength is as a runner, where his elusiveness and burst often leave defenders grasping air. College: Committed to MSU Mankato.
Tyson Cooreman, Randolph, senior, athlete, 6-4, 210
He jumps off the screen in game film. Whether pulling away from defenders as a ball carrier, snatching a pass in midair or chasing down opponents, he’d be a standout on any team in the state. College: Committed to Northern Iowa.
Mason Kolling, Kingsland, tight end/defensive tackle, senior, 6-4, 230
Looks more like an offensive tackle until you see him with the ball in his substantial mitts. Catches with dexterity and runs with speed and exceptional power. On defense, he wreaks havoc and demands double-teams. College: Uncommitted
Ashton Lloyd, Blue Earth Area, wide receiver/tight end, senior, 6-5, 230
Used frequently as a wideout, thanks to his ability to get separation and because of his hands. His size presents mismatches against smaller opponents. Can run away from defenders or through them when necessary. College: uncommitted.
Wes Overton, Rockford, linebacker, senior, 6-3, 205
A starter since his freshman year, Overton routinely makes plays sideline to sideline. He outruns linemen, sheds blockers like they’re nothing more than annoyances and outhits just about everyone else on the field. College: uncommitted.