Quinn Backus played his last football game with Coastal Carolina back in December, but the awards continue to pile up for the decorated linebacker.
The Big South announced Thursday that Backus has been voted the conference’s Male Student-Athlete of the Year for the 2014-15 athletic year, becoming just the second Chanticleer football player to receive the honor and the second in two years following running back Lorenzo Taliaferro in 2013-14.
Backus, who is the only three-time winner of the Big South’s Defensive Player of the Year award, received 12 first-place votes and 79 total points in the balloting, as chosen by the league’s athletic directors, senior woman administrators and sports information directors.
He finished just ahead of Chants quarterback Alex Ross, who tied Charleston Southern point guard Saah Nimley with 63 points in the voting. Longwood softball star Megan Baltzell, meanwhile, was voted the Big South’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year.
“It’s an addition to the great career I had. It shows we have a lot of great things going on at the school, and I was blessed to be a part of it and achieved what I achieved with great teammates and coaches,” Backus said.
Backus said he learned of the news via Twitter, which quickly put a smile on his face Thursday.
“I hadn’t heard anything about it,” he said. “I just remember last year Lorenzo was the Male Athlete of the Year. I thought they announced it earlier. It’s a great achievement.”
In addition to his three Big South Defensive Player of the Year awards, Backus was also the first player to lead the conference in tackles in three different seasons. His 414 career tackles broke a school record, rank second in Big South history and 14th all-time in NCAA FCS history.
He was a consensus Football Championship Subdivision All-American while also finishing fourth in voting last season for the Buck Buchanan Award, which is presented annually to the top defensive player at the FCS level.
Overall, Coastal Carolina has now produced the male winner of the conference’s prestigious all-sports honor seven times since the award debuted in 1999-00 as Backus joins former Chants Justin Owens (baseball, 2001-02), Joseph Ngwenya (soccer, 2002-03 and 2003-04), Mike Costanzo (baseball, 2004-05), Ashton Bennett (soccer, 2011-12) and Taliaferro on the list.
“For Quinn to be able to do that this year and for Coastal to have two of our athletes back to back in football is something that I think all of Coastal is certainly very proud of and I’m certainly very proud of it as chairman of athletics and as our football coach,” Chants coach Joe Moglia said. “Quinn was also picked as the Coastal Carolina Male Athlete of the Year, which is something we’re also very, very proud of.
“Quinn has always been the epitome of dedication, hard work, focus; he’s done a good job in the classroom; he’s been a great, great leader for us, as everybody knows. ... I think frankly Coastal Carolina and our football program is a little better off because of Quinn’s participation.”
As for the future, Backus said he is still hoping he gets a chance to continue his football career while admitting the waiting process has been frustrating after such an accomplished collegiate career.
Listed at 5-foot-10, 215 pounds during his time with the Chants, Backus’ size has been his biggest obstacle to landing an opportunity at the professional level. He was invited for a weekend tryout with the Houston Texans after not being selected in the NFL Draft, but he was cut as only a few of the tryout invitees were offered a longer showcase with the team.
Since then, he’s continued to workout while hoping either a Canadian Football League or NFL team comes calling.
“I haven’t heard anything so I’m getting a little frustrated,” he admitted. “I’m just trying not to think about it as much. But it’s a tough pill to swallow to think I might not ever be putting the pads on again, but I must take it in stride. I do have a degree. I may have to put my degree to work earlier than anticipated, but that’s why education is always important no matter what you do.”
An inspiring success story who overcame significant childhood obstacles – with his biological parents not present in his life – on his way to becoming a respected locker room leader with the Chants and one of the greatest players in program history, Backus hopes to one day pursue a career as a guidance counselor.
But, again, he’s still hoping for an opportunity to prove he has some football left in him first.
“I still haven’t heard anything. I know [the CFL] is going into week four of their season, but I think that’s part of the disappointment and the reason I feel I’m losing a little hope now,” he said. “I feel a window is closing, but I also have to realize the NFL hasn’t started their training camp yet. So I don’t know what may happen in the next month or so. I just have to be in shape when I do get an opportunity.
“If I don’t get a call say by October, then I’m going to get experience in guidance counseling and go back to school for my master’s degree.”
As for all of these awards he’s collected? Backus said he keeps everything back home in Greenwood for the time being, but he has plans for the future in that regard too.
“Just saving them up for my man cave,” he said. “Once I get established, get my career started and buy a house, I’ll be able to put them in that room until I have kids.”
And at this point, it better be a big room.
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318 or on Twitter @RyanYoungTSN.