Owatonna senior Chandler Buckhalter announced through Twitter on Sunday that he has committed to play football at Minnesota State University-Mankato.

The 6-foot, 280-pound tackle anchored a defensive line that held state champion Elk River to their lowest output of the season in the state semifinals at US Bank Stadium. Buckhalter says he attended a camp at MSU-Mankato over the summer and discovered that coaches had been watching him for years and he didn't even know it. Buckhalter played varsity football at Triton before transferring to Owatonna as a sophomore.

He went on a few game visits to Mankato and enjoyed the atmosphere. He also said he likes the attitude of the team that their 8-3 record in 2016 is not where they want to be. Buckhalter feels the Division II school acts like a D-I program. He says he will be a redshirt, which will be a good development year, but admits it will be tough on him to not be on the field. He knows it's a big jump from high school to this level of college football. Buckhalter tore the labrum in his shoulder this season. He had surgery that he's been told should give him a 95 percent chance of solving the problem.

Buckhalter also likes the sports management program that Minnesota State-Mankato offers. He plans to minor in business. He was also considering Winona State and Bemidji State. Staying close to home was also a consideration.

Buckhalter says the high school season was a blast with the chance to play at US Bank Stadium. He says the team really came together after the loss to Faribault in order to reach the heights they did. He was happy to see how well the underclassmen contributed to the team.

Owatonna coach Jeff Williams said in an email to KRFO, "We are very happy for Bucky. He has worked hard, both on and off the field, to put himself in this position. MSU-Mankato is a very competitive program and this is a great opportunity for Chandler."

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