Getting recruited out of South Lake Tahoe is no easy task.
There aren’t exactly a bunch of college coaches keeping tabs on high school talent in the basin area. Cale Backinger knows this, which is exactly why he put countless hours into getting his name out there.
Backinger would get home from school or practice and start compiling info. He spent hours compiling stats, clips, anything that could be part of a recruiting packet he then sent out to a list of potential schools running 60 deep. The South Tahoe grad knew full well this is what it would realistically take to play football at the college level.
Backinger’s efforts finally paid off when he found a home at College of Siskiyous, and the South Tahoe standout and first team All-State football player should see significant playing time at tight end in his freshman year.
“Cale will have a great opportunity to fight for a starting role at tight end for us this fall,” Siskiyous head coach Charlie Roche. “I know he is very capable of playing a lot for us this fall.”
Junior college wasn’t the initial plan. Backinger’s 6-foot-5 and 215-pound frame originally made him a DII or DIII target, but as that list started to whittle down and tuition costs started adding up, junior college seemed like the perfect choice to get Backinger to the next level.
College of Siskiyous has an impressive track record when it comes to that sort of thing. Last year, 21 of the football team’s 24 sophomores were signed by bigger schools. The team also won its state bowl.
South Tahoe coach Kevin Hennessee knew College of the Siskiyous had a good football program. He used to take his former team up there for football camp and recommended that Backinger check it out.
When Backinger met coach Roche he had to agree.
“He wasn’t trying to aggressively recruit me. He was just being straight forward and I liked that,” Backinger said.
It didn’t feel like Roche was just telling him what he wanted to hear, Backinger said. Roche said if he wanted to come out, then he should come out, and they would set him up with housing, a meal plan and some classes — straight forward and refreshing.
“Cale is a tough kid that plays extremely hard,” Roche said. “We pride our program on this type of player and effort.”
In his senior year at South Tahoe, Backinger caught for 617 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown pass, and found the end zone seven times for the Vikings. He was one of three seniors who led the Vikings to the first winning season the team has seen in nearly a decade.
That was a team of about 20. Backinger’s new team is about 100 players strong, and for right now, Backinger is just focusing on fitting into that puzzle wherever he’s needed. Down the road though, who knows? This may be a stepping stone on Backinger’s way to San Jose State.