Hinder off to top quarterback camp

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— The small-town, small-classification moniker has never bothered Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Austin Hinder.

And it shouldn't.

A talent like Hinder doesn't often come along on the football field. Now, what Hinder showed the Western Slope League in the fall when he threw for more than 1,400 yards and ran for another 600, he's hoping to show the rest of the nation.

Hinder was one of more than 100 high school quarterbacks nationwide invited to the Steve Clarkson Quarterback Academy at Glendale Community College in Southern California.

Clarkson - often regarded as one of the top quarterback coaches in the nation - has tutored the likes of Matt Leinart, Ben Roethlisberger, J.P. Losman, Jimmy Clausen and more than 400 Division I players, including about a dozen quarterbacks playing Division I right now.

Hinder was invited to the camp after coaches deemed he met the requirements for the highly competitive camp.

"I'm not nervous at all. I'm so excited," Hinder said. "I've just been working out, practicing my drops and getting ready for the football camp."

The camp is two days of intense personal instruction where quarterbacks are versed in everything from reading defenses and strategy to the correct drop and mechanics.

"It's two days of all-day stuff," Hinder said. "You start at 7 a.m., and it's quarterback stuff for a good 12 hours."

In the two weeks that follow the camp, Clarkson tries to meet with each quarterback and set a plan of action for improving and dealing with recruiting.

Clarkson estimates 20 of the top 50 quarterbacks in each class will attend his camp. This year's list includes Matt Barkley, the top-rated high school player and quarterback in America. Sons of former football greats Joe Montana and Randy Cross also will be at the camp, as well as rapper Snoop Dogg's son.

Because of Clarkson's reputation for molding quarterbacks, he said when college coaches go to recruit a quarterback, he's usually one of the first people they contact.

While Clarkson has only seen a little of Hinder on tape, the Sailors gunslinger is one of the quarterbacks Clarkson is most excited to see.

"He has the ability to play on Sunday based on what I saw," Clarkson said. "Of course, anything can happen. But the fact he's just a sophomore is mind blowing."

Although Hinder will be in the company of the top quarterbacks from powerful football states like California, Texas and Florida, he said this is an opportunity he's embracing.

"I just want to get that experience," Hinder said. "I never feel out of place where I come from. It's how you perform. I love going to camp and competing against other players. I love competing against other guys. It's just a dream. I've been waiting to do this. I'm psyched to do it."

Hinder doesn't have offers from any colleges, but he's been invited to junior days at Purdue, Stanford, Oregon and Colorado, among others.

He's also attending a Nike camp at Stanford in May, as well as an Elite 11 regional camp at the University of California-Berkeley.

While Hinder is just entering the crazy, sometimes mind-bending world of recruiting, he said he's trying to keep everything in perspective.

"I haven't got an offer, and we still haven't won a state championship. There's so much stuff I need to work for," Hinder said. "I'm still a real far ways from perfect. I still need to work my butt off."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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