Steamboat Springs’ Hinder headed to Cal

Steamboat Springs High School’s Austin Hinder practices his throw during Mesa State College’s football camp.



There never was much of a question of where Steamboat Springs quarterback Austin Hinder wanted to play his college football.

Hinder wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, former St. Louis Cardinals head coach Jim Hanifan, and play for the University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears.

“If you asked him when he was 10 years old where he wanted to play college football he would have said Cal,” Steamboat Springs coach Aaron Finch said. “That’s always been his dream, so to have the opportunity, we are really excited.”

Cal was the first school to offer the small-town kid from Steamboat Springs, and although he was eager to commit, he decided to see what his other options were.

In the end it came back to Cal. In May, he verbally committed to the Bears.

“I always wanted to go to Cal and that was my first offer, and I was like, ‘this is awesome,’ ” Hinder said. “Then 15 more offers came in and my options opened up. I got to look around and enjoy the recruiting process, but I realized that Cal was still for me.”

Hinder’s other options included offers from in-state schools Colorado and Colorado State as well as Florida State, Notre Dame, Alabama and UCLA. But for Hinder, the list of reasons to attend Cal was longer than any other school.

“I love the bay area, the campus is beautiful and Coach (Jeff) Tedford was probably one of the biggest reasons I committed,” Hinder said. “He has sent like 10 quarterbacks to the NFL and I had meetings with him and I can learn everything I need to know by going to Cal.”

Hinder is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 2 quarterback of the 2010 class and is a four-star recruit. So how did a Class 3A quarterback from the Western Slope become one of the most sought-after football players from Colorado?

Hinder said one of the ways he got his name out was going to elite camps as well as the Steve Clarkson Quarterback Academy and the All-American Junior Combine in San Antonio.

“It was all about hard work,” Hinder said. “I performed really well at the camps, which was big.”

But the measure of a good football player is gauged on the field with the pads on, not throwing 10-yard curl routes with no pressure. To Finch, it was the game film that set Hinder apart.

“His toughness shows up on the game film,” Finch said. “We didn’t have the biggest offensive line last year, and he had to make things happen with his footwork. He is very durable.”

Hinder is entering his third year as a starter for the Sailors and has thrown for more than 3,000 yards and more than 30 touchdowns. His senior campaign begins Saturday when the Sailors host Holy Family.

Hinder obviously has big-time football ahead of him, but isn’t ready to head to the West Coast just yet. Hinder has one more goal to accomplish at Steamboat Springs: a state championship.

The 6-foot-4 quarterback said the Sailors are using the blueprint of another Western Slope Conference team.

“We use Glenwood’s team from last year as an example,” Hinder said. “They wanted it so much, and that’s how we need to be.

“We are in the exact situation as they were, and it comes down to putting in as much focus as they did. This team seems to be doing that.”


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