Down to two for northwest star

AFTER A HECTIC RECRUITING SEASON and numerous offers, the decision after all these months now comes down to two programs: SMU and Idaho. One is recruiting him as a safety, the other as a wide receiver. The team that gains a pledge from KENNETH ACKER (6-3/4, 190, 4.45), the PIL Offensive AND Defensive Player of the Year and Oregon 6A All-State pick, lands an impact athlete with a bright future.

PLAYER PROFILE: Kenneth Acker, 6-3/4, 190, 4.45-40

With Idaho having two seniors in the wide receiver depth chart for the upcoming 2010 season, the need for the Vandals to look at filling the ranks is looming. What better place to start than with Grant (Portland, Ore.) High School star athlete Kenneth Acker. He's been on the Idaho recruiting grid for months, having held an offer from the Vandals for much of the fall. If his 4.45-40 speed isn't enough to turn heads, the 2,500 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns he accounted for in 2009 as a senior should. Of those 40 touchdowns, nine came on kick/punt returns and three were delivered to the endzone courtesy of pick sixes from his defensive back position.

If you're thinking he didn't leave the field much, you're right.

The one-man wrecking crew owned the Portland Interscholastic League last year, and was named the League's Offensive AND Defensive Player of the Year for his exploits. He topped those honors off by being named a First Team All-State Class 6A pick at defensive back, and a Second Team selection at quarterback.

Realistically, even though he's being recruited for specific positions by several schools, Acker has the physical gifts to play just about any skill position on the field.

He's been courted by numerous programs throughout the summer and fall and holds several offers, but through it all he has narrowed his decision down to two programs, both of whom are on a sharp upward trajectory.

"Right now it feels like its down between SMU and Idaho," Acker told this evening. "I'll be making my decision on Friday, after my exams are done and all [he is the basketball team's starting point guard and has a big rivalry game set for this Friday night]. It's a hard decision, two totally different places.

"I have other offers, but I've been narrowing it down for awhile," he added. "It's coming down to the wire and these are the two that I'm thinking about now."

Are they both recruiting him for the same position? "Actually it's totally different. SMU is recruiting me as a safety, Idaho is recruiting me as a receiver. SMU has a big city, Idaho has a small town. It seems like it's night and day really."

And what about the Hawaii angle? The Warriors were also on Acker early, offering him a full ride about the same time as Idaho. "I looked there [Hawaii]. It's really a nice place and all, but I really don't see myself going that far. I like the college itself, and I've always wanted to go to Hawaii [on a vacation]. I really like the coaches, but it seems like I never really got that connection with them."

Though SMU and Idaho are looking at him for different positions right now, the attraction to these two programs is similar. "Mostly my relationship with the coaches [at SMU]," Acker said in describing his interest in coach June Jones and the Mustangs. "And I know a player that goes there. Me just being a city guy -- seems like it would be a cool little fit. But I really like the coaching staff."

The attraction to the Vandal coaching staff and program is similar. "Once again, I like the coaching staff," Acker stated of Coach Robb Akey and Idaho. "I really felt the connection with those guys. Just the interest that they're showing in me seems real genuine."

That, and Idaho's dramatic turnaround this season, which included eight wins and plenty of air-time on ESPN for their heart thumping come-from-behind victory in the final 26 seconds of the Humanitarian Bowl. "It did," Acker said of Idaho's 2009 season impacting his interest. "At first I really didn't know that much about them, and then I started hearing stuff. It really did. Nobody wants to go to a losing program, but to see them turnaround like that and win, it's pretty good."

Acker is a player that can line up at just about any position on the field. So what strengths does he think he brings to the Division 1A gridiron? "Just the versatility that I can bring to a team. I can play a lot of positions, I really don't have a true set position. I can see myself doing a lot of stuff, and they can just fill me in wherever they need me. I really don't have a set position where I can't do a bunch of stuff on the field. It's not like if that one aspect of my game gets destroyed, I have other positions I can play."

It isn't all football for the multi-sport star either. His maturity as an individual and an athlete comes through in his comments about the rebuilding effort he is playing an integral role in this year at Grant.

"I'm starting at the point guard now, which is what I've been playing since my sophomore year," Acker told in describing this year's team. "We won state two years ago, then we had a good season and lost in the semis last year -- I thought we should have won that game. This year is a rebuilding year for us, basically. Four sophomores on the team -- one starts -- and then we have five juniors and only three seniors.

"Its more of me helping the team out and coaching some of the younger guys up," Acker added. "Showing them what it takes to win, because they're going to be real good. We're a good team now and all, but there are some teams where this is their year -- starting all seniors, they've been playing for a bunch of years, and they've been in the big games. We're kind of struggling with the big-game situation because we have a lot of young guys who are just starting to play varsity. We're coming around as a team and all, but it's mostly like a rebuilding year for us."

Check back later this weekend for an update on Acker's college decision for the gridiron next fall.

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