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January 2, 2009SAN ANTONIO - Austin Hinder and Danny Spond already hold multiple Division I scholarship offers, but the two Colorado standouts had something they wanted to prove at the U.S. Army National Combine on Friday.
Hinder wanted to prove he is worthy of Elite 11 quarterback consideration while Spond wanted to prove he has the arm to line up behind center at the next level.
Hinder hails from Steamboat Springs, a town known for its World-class skiing, not for producing D-1 football players.
"When you come out of a smaller school like I do, you just have to work that much harder," said Hinder, who accounted for more than 2,000 yards of offense and 20 touchdowns this past season. "It is all about going to camps like this and playing well so you can get your name out there."
Hinder completed a high percentage of his passes during one-on-ones on Friday, impressing Rivals.com analyst Barry Every.
"Hinder has a real strong arm, he has a quick release and he's got a lot of spin on the ball," said Every. "He needs to work on gaining weight. He is 6-foot-4 but he only weighed in at 177-pounds. But he's got time, he's only a junior. I really like the kid."
Hinder's grandfather Jim Hanifan coached in the NFL years for 32 years. He was a head coach for nine of those years. Now, Hanifan is the color commentator on the St. Louis Rams' radio broadcast team.
"Austin has been going all over the country, getting schooled up about football," said Every. "Hanifan was the head coach at the Under Armour Game last year and they didn't have the greatest quarterbacks. I was there and I saw this kid throwing on the sideline and that's how I met Austin. I was like, 'Dang, who is this kid?' He was better than any quarterback that was out there in the game and he was just a sophomore.
"I don't think there is any doubt he's got a chance to be an Elite 11 quarterback."
Hinder's first scholarship offer came from Cal, the program he grew up cheering for.
"The day I got that offer was one of the best days of my life," he said. "I never thought my first offer would come from my favorite school. It was a great feeling."
Kansas State, Nebraska and Stanford have since stepped up to the plate with an offer.
"[Head] coach Dan Hawkins [from Colorado] sent me an e-mail saying that they are offering me a scholarship but for me to actually get the written offer, I have to come to CU to pick it up," Hinder added. "Which is fine, I am just going to stop by."
Hinder said he would like to make his college decision before his senior season begins.
Spond was not quite as efficient passing the ball during one-on-ones. But the Littleton (Colo.) Columbine product ran a respectable 4.8-second laser timed 40-yard dash.
He measured in at 6-foot-2.5, 230-pounds at registration on Thursday.
"Danny is a little bit of a project [as a quarterback]," said Every. "But the difference with him, something that he has going for him, is the fact that he's a better overall athlete [than Hinder]. I'm not trying to take his dream of playing quarterback in college away from him; I'm just saying the good thing about him is that he would not be a bust because he could be a linebacker or possibly even an athletic tight end.
"I had my doubts on Danny being a quarterback based on film. He should go to as many camps as he can because they don't throw the ball a lot at his high school and he needs to get more reps."
Spond earned All-Colorado honors as a junior. He attempted just 57 passes but still managed to throw eight touchdowns. He also scored 10 times on the ground, while averaging 9.8 yards per rushing attempt.
"I would say I definitely have more of a quarterback mentality as a football player," Spond said. "I'm a leader on the field and I like to have the ball in my hands. I really do want to play quarterback in college. But if I don't, that's OK; I can do whatever is best for the team."
Colorado, Stanford, Wyoming and Duke have all extended early scholarship offers.
"Stanford to me is my biggest offer right now," Spond said. "It's a great academic school and academics are first on my list of priorities when choosing a college. Just getting a degree from Stanford alone would be pretty cool.
"And playing football there would be great, too. Their coach, Jim Harbaugh, has helped them turn their program around. I have been following them a lot. They are probably at the top of my list right now."
Two of Spond's former teammates at Columbine - Ryan Miller and Curtis Cunningham - are currently up in Boulder playing college football at Colorado. According to Spond, they are doing all they can to try and keep him in state.
"My sister went to CU and growing up in Colorado I have gone to a lot of their games," he said. "CU is great. If I went there I would be kind of fulfilling a childhood fantasy."
Unlike Hinder, Spond wants to take his time with the recruiting process.
"I want to wait until after my senior season, or at least until midway through it," he said. "That will give me an opportunity to see what other offers might be out there, and give me time to do some more research on the schools that have already offered me."
Denver (Colo.) Mullen quarterback Jonny Miller, Lakewood (Colo.) Bear Creek offensive lineman Jake Utley and Aurora (Colo.) Regis Jesuit fullback Alex Bienemann also represented the Centennial State as the U.S. Army All-American Junior combine.