Steamboat graduate Austin Hinder adjusting well to California | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat graduate Austin Hinder adjusting well to California

Luke Graham

Austin Hinder

— A year ago at this time, Austin Hinder couldn't go anywhere without getting attention.

He had just walked off the field against Holy Family in the opening week of the 2009 high school football season having put most questions about his lofty recruiting ranking and early commitment to the University of California-Berkeley to rest.

That day, the Steamboat Springs High School quarterback threw for 326 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-21 win.

But now, after his first fall camp with Cal and on the day his new team is set to open the season, Hinder is basking in a little anonymity.

He's traded reps with the first team for limited reps and a playbook. He's gone from big man on campus to freshman quarterback at a major Division I college.

"The fives and sixes didn't get reps," Hinder said in late August before practice. "Sometimes, we'd get put in there. But it's been a good learning curve."

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It's not that Hinder's talents have disappeared. He's still got a bright future ahead of him, but it's certainly not high school anymore.

Hinder arrived at Cal in late June. He took two classes and worked out with the Bears during the summer.

As it is for most freshmen, and especially those from smaller schools, the speed of the game has been the toughest thing for Hinder. He spent most of fall practice learning the offense. His playbook has increased to 400 pages, and it has been football time, all the time.

"I got a really good understanding of the basics and stuff," Hinder said. "It's just getting repetitions and learning the protections. That's the most complicated thing. Knowing who each one of your linemen is blocking. It's been hours and hours of film trying to learn habits and little tendencies in defenses."

Hinder's average day begins at 6 a.m. with breakfast. After that, it's meetings, class, practice and more meetings.

It's football pretty much the entire day, and although the NCAA regulates how much time coaches get with players, Hinder said he studies as much of it as he can.

There are six quarterbacks on Cal's roster, but Hinder is the only freshman. Barring unforeseen injuries, Hinder will redshirt this year. From there it will be about earning his way up the depth chart.

"Austin Hinder is an athletic, smart and eager young man who we are looking forward to seeing play quarterback at Cal when his turn comes," Cal offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said in an e-mail. "He is a popular and well-liked player both by his coaches and his teammates."

It's been an adjustment period for Hinder. But the new man on campus said he wouldn't change his decision. He's where he always thought he would be.

From here, he knows it's up to him where he goes.

"It's just being able to trust you can throw a post 20 yards in front of a guy and he's going to run under it," Hinder said. "You have to throw it to spots where they can get to it. For a few guys, you can throw it as far as you can and they'll get under it.

"It's more complicated in areas, but it's still just football."

Other local talent playing college football

Lane Shipley, DL, Dartmouth College: He enters his fourth season at Dartmouth. After blowing out his knee his freshman year and playing in eight games last season, Shipley is battling for a starting defensive tackle position this season.

Ben DeLine, K, Colorado State University: Entering his third season as a starter, DeLine hit 12 of 16 field goals, including four of five from 40-plus yards, as a sophomore. In his career he's 16 of 21 on field goals and 32 of 35 on extra points. He lost the kickoff job last season, but reports are he'll be starting kicker and kickoff specialist this season.

Alex Wood, TE, University of Colorado: After redshirting last season, Wood is fourth on the depth chart at tight end. Still, he should see some time on special teams units this season.

Joe Dover, S, Southern Utah University: The freshman has solely focused on safety after playing both ways in high school. A likely redshirt candidate this season, Dover may see some time on special teams. "I'm not the fastest guy on the field anymore," Dover said.

Matt Lettunich, S, Lewis and Clark College: As a freshman and sophomore, Lettunich played in 17 of 18 games, finishing with 50 tackles. The junior should play a bigger role this season.

Hayden

Coy Letlow, S, University of Northern Colorado: After redshirting last season, Letlow was moved from linebacker to safety in the spring. With a deep Bears secondary, Letlow's best opportunity for playing time could come on special teams.

Keenan Bruchez, QB, Adams State College: Bruchez opened his career at the Colorado School of Mines, starting two games his freshman year in 2006. He missed most of the 2006 season and all of the 2007 season. He enrolled at Adams State in the fall of 2009 before joining the team this spring.

Ben Fulton, DB, Western State College: A walk-on in the fall, Fulton was credited with an interception in a scrimmage.

Soroco

Cody Miles, LB, Fort Lewis College: Miles was recruited to Fort Lewis because of his ability to play all over the field. In fall practices, Miles was in team meetings with the linebackers, defensive backs and wide receivers. A redshirt season is possible.