STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - Living in a town that attracts tourists, not college football recruiters, Austin Hinder knew early on that he was going to have to work a little bit harder to get noticed.
So the young quarterback began leaving the state of Colorado to attend camps and combines when he was in middle school.
Steamboat Springs is a three-hour drive from the nearest major airport, but the trek to Denver International Airport was worth the inconvenience. Hinder had lofty goals to achieve, one of which he accomplished when he was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
During a ceremony at his school on Wednesday afternoon, Hinder received the jersey that he will wear in San Antonio when he represents the West squad in the prestigious all-star game.
"It is a huge honor," Hinder said. "I was really happy, not only for myself but also happy and thankful for everyone that has helped me. This really means a lot to me."
His journey as a college football hopeful began when Hinder was in the eighth grade and he attended the Peyton Manning Passing Academy.
"After that, I went out of state a lot to go to camps to get my name out there," Hinder said. "I loved competing with the top-notch quarterbacks at those camps. I went to California numerous times because I always heard they had the best of the best."
While he didn't have the benefit of living in a recruiting hotbed, Hinder was fortunate to have a great football mentor. His grandfather Jim Hanifan was an All-American at Cal and he spent 32 years coaching in the NFL, nine of which were spent as a head coach.
"He has taught me so many things about football," Hinder said of his grandpa. "I would just follow him around and he brought me to NFL Training Camps. He showed me what football is all about. He is probably the most influential person in my life."
In addition to being a U.S. Army All-American, Hinder set forth three other goals during his junior year at Steamboat Springs High School: earn a scholarship offer from his grandfather's alma mater, get invited to the Super 7 Quarterback Retreat in Hawaii and be selected as an Elite 11 quarterback.
Hinder has now accomplished all of those goals.
"When you feel like you have to work that much harder than everybody else, it pays off in the long run," he said. "I went to the camps and performed well at those, but you have to perform on the field. It all just came down to me practicing my footwork, getting accurate, trying to be the best I can I be."
The Golden Bears were actually the first to offer Hinder a scholarship. But he didn't commit at first.
"Cal was always my leader but once all the other offers started pouring in (more than a dozen other programs offered, including Alabama, Florida State and Notre Dame), I went ahead and looked around and made sure that I was making the right decision," Hinder said. "Cal just had everything I wanted. They have unbelievable academics, a great coaching staff and they are always competing at a high level."
Before heading to the Alamo City to begin practicing for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in late December, Hinder hopes to lead Steamboat Springs to a 3A State Championship. The Sailors are currently undefeated at 8-0. Hinder has thrown 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions this fall.
As for the future, Hinder plans to keep shooting for the stars.
"I am going to make a whole new list of goals before I begin my career as a college quarterback," he said. "Hopefully those work out as well. I think they will. It all just comes down to hard work."