California head coach Jeff Tedford has made it a point to sign an Elite 11 level quarterback every year. Of the three quarterbacks on the Bears' roster, two are Elite 11 camp alums – Kevin Riley and Brock Mansion. Departing senior Nate Longshore also attended the prestigious camp when he was a rising high school senior. Furthermore, incoming freshman signal caller Allan Bridgford shined at last year's Elite 11 Camp on his way to earning U.S. Army All-American honors.
Bridgford verbally committed to Cal in early May of 2008 as part of the 2009 class. However, Coach Tedford did not wait long to make a push for his quarterback of the 2010 class.
Hinder returned to California in early June of last year to compete in the Bears' football camp. It was there that the 6-foot-5, 180-pound standout impressed Coach Tedford and subsequently received a verbal offer – official written offers cannot be obtained until after Sept. 1 of a prospects junior year.
The Cal offer started a whirlwind of recruiting that saw Hinder amass many offers from some of the top programs in the nation including Alabama, Florida State, LSU, and Notre Dame among others. One year later, he returns to the Bay Area as one of the most sought after quarterbacks prospects in the country. However, the early knock on Hinder thus far into his recruitment has been his inability to dominant the lower level of highs school competition he faces.
Surely, he passes the eyeball test. Moreover, his arm strength, release, and pocket awareness are money. He is a true pocket passer with all the physical tools to become a solid FBS level quarterback. Increased speed and mobility would only enhance his game. While no one is going to mistake him for Tim Tebow, Hinder is no statue in the pocket either.
"I'm an athletic pro-style quarterback," Hinder recently told Scout.com's IrishEyes.com.
"I'm not a dual-threat quarterback that runs the ball at the college level, but I'm a quarterback that when the play breaks down, I can make plays with my feet. I'm not going to settle for a loss of yardage. I can escape the pocket. I can also drop back and make that throw. I'm more of an athletic pro-style quarterback."
In March, Hinder competed at the Badger Sport/New Level 7-on-7 passing tournament. He didn't have his best performance over the two days. He displayed superb arm strength, but his touch was off. It didn't help that he participated on a team with three other quarterbacks. Hinder looked out of rhythm. Nevertheless, it did raise questions about the quality of talent he faces in Colorado. His ranking dropped on Scout.com from an early four-star prospect to a three-star rating. He currently ranks as the No. 28 quarterback in the nation, according to Scout.com, which is still lofty for a prospect from small high school that has never had a player sign with a FBS school.
His drop in rating likely has more to do with previously unrated quarterbacks that have jumped on the scene like fellow Cal offer prospect Jesse Scroggins and Bay Area standout Brett Nottingham. Nonetheless, this weekend is Hinder's shot to separate him from the pack. Along with Scroggins and Nottingham, Jake Heaps will compete this weekend but only at the Stanford Nike Camp. Heaps, who recently named Cal among top five schools, is rated the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation according to Scout.com.
While he has not named any favorites per se, Hinder told IrishEyes.com that he is definitely taking official visits to Cal, Notre Dame, and UCLA.
Hinder plans to visit Notre Dame unofficially before his senior year, and he attended UCLA's junior day last month. Cal and UCLA have been by Steamboat Springs this week as part of the spring evaluation period.
"I've always loved Cal," Hinder told IrishEyes.com. "It was the first school to offer me. I have all the respect in the world for Coach Tedford and all the coaches there. They're always a top-25 program. I'm excited to see where things end up."
With Heaps stating that he plans to make his college decision next month, the clock is ticking on which of three quarterbacks that hold a Cal offer will commit first. Coach Tedford cannot sign all three, but could he or would he take two?
Cal holds a certain place on Hinder's list because it was his first offer. He has seen plenty of the campus and program to make an informed decision. But will he commit early? "I might take a few officials before I make a commitment," Hinder told IrishEyes.com.
There is one constant among his top schools, and for Cal fans, hopefully, one variable. "I would like to play in a pro-style offense," said Hinder. "That's another plus of Cal.
"Coach Tedford is unbelievable coach. He's knows so much about the game. He runs an offense that I love. He's such a great character and coach. I would really enjoy playing for him."
Stay with CalSportsDigest.com as we catch up with Austin Hinder this weekend in the Bay Area.
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