When Taryn Chapman was pregnant with her son Dakota, she and her husband, Terry, got some alarming news.
Doctors told them Dakota might have spina bifida and wanted to run tests that could be potentially dangerous.
“My dad put his foot down and said, ‘No, we are not running those tests,’ and walked out and said, ‘My son is going to be healed,’” Dakota Chapman related.
“They started praying from that day forward that they would have a healthy baby and that God would provide, and here I am 22 years later.”
A running back and tight end for Samford University football, Chapman has made his presence known on the field.
“He has become a really good back for us as well as tight end,” said Samford offensive coordinator Mitch Stewart. “He plays a lot of special teams. He is a versatile player in a lot of different areas.”
Jay Stanton, a Samford running back, said, “Everyone knows Dak is Mack Truck when he runs and blocks, but off the field his greatest strength is his mindset. He is hardworking.”
Chapman gets up at 5 a.m. and sends Bible verses and inspirational messages to teammates. At 5:31 he sends one to Stewart.
“I see his faith in action every morning at 5:31 when he sends me a spiritual, motivational message,” Stewart said. “Every morning when I wake up that notification is already there.”
Chapman, who was raised in a Christian home, was young when he made a decision to accept Christ as Savior, and his parents have videos of him “preaching” when he was 3 or 4. They led a college and career class at Oasis of Praise Church of God in McCalla, and when the class came over Chapman would get on a stool and preach; his sister McKenna would sing; and they took up an offering.
Chapman has actually preached at Oasis of Praise twice, and at other churches as well, but doesn’t feel called to be a pastor. He plans to be a college football coach.
After transferring to Samford from Jacksonville State University in 2020, his first games for the Bulldogs didn’t come until last spring due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Through the seven-game season, he scored three touchdowns.
Chapman has brought leadership, tenacity, physicality, blocking ability, positive attitude and all-out effort to the Bulldogs, coaches and teammates say.
“The best thing about Dak is guys on the team know exactly where he stands with his walk with the Lord,” Stewart noted. “They know they can come to him [with] questions, problems, praise or prayer.
“Dak brings an old-school toughness to our team. He’s usually walking through the building taped up, iced-down, wrapped up, bruised, all with a smile on his face.”
Chapman made the 2020-2021 All-Southern Conference Academic Team, with a 3.86 GPA. At Jacksonville State he was on the All-Academic Ohio Valley Conference Team from 2017 to 2019.
With a bachelor’s degree in political science from JSU, Chapman will graduate from Samford in December with a master of business administration degree. He plans to pursue a master of theological studies degree there beginning in January since he has another year of eligibility in football after this season.
At Oasis of Praise, Chapman helps out on Sunday afternoons as one of two leaders with high school boys.
Football has given him a “broader avenue and spotlight to be an advocate for my faith and share it,” Chapman said, adding that “If you are faithful to God, He will be faithful to you.”
“My commitment to whatever I do, whether it is sharing the gospel, whether it is football, going hunting, learning a new skill, I am going to throw 100% into everything.”
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