West Sioux High School quarterback invited to prestigious camp
HAWARDEN—The recruiting battle for Hunter Dekkers, the standout junior quarterback at West Sioux High School in Hawarden, has yet to heat up, but his profile will definitely skyrocket thanks to a recent invite to the Elite 11 quarterback competition.
The Elite 11 is a quarterback competition for high school football players around the United States. Each year, Student Sports Inc. hosts the event, which was founded by the company in 1999.
According to the Elite 11 website, The Elite 11 Regionals are designed to help elite high school players with college potential advance their football and training knowledge to maximize their ability. Participants are taught position-specific and athletic performance drills designed by some of the top NFL players and sports performance specialists in America. Just getting an invite to the Elite 11 regional competitions indeed makes a player elite. There are 14 regionals this year. Competitors will try to earn their way to the Elite 11 finals — a three-day event that includes on-field drills, routes on air, classroom instruction and off-field development. Since 2016, the camp has been covered by the NFL Network in a YouTube series.
Eleven of the past 12 quarterbacks who have won the Heisman Trophy have attended the Elite 11 finals or an Elite 11 regional. Fifteen of the top 20 passers in the National Football League in 2017 attended the Elite 11 finals or an Elite 11 regional.
“The director asked me for my e-mail and sent me an invite,” Dekkers said. “I don’t know how they found out about me. I really don’t know a whole lot about it yet, but I’m a big fan. I’ve watched all the seasons and all the episodes of it.”
West Sioux football coach Ryan Schwiesow was not surprised Dekkers got invited.
“It is one of the most elite and well-known competitions in the country, but I wouldn’t say I’m surprised at all because of the level of talent Hunter possesses,” Schwiesow said. “I am surprised just because it’s such a small school and smaller schools aren’t generally asked to be a part of things like this, but there is no question the talent is there.”
Numbers draw eyes
Dekkers has been the signal-caller on consecutive state championship teams at West Sioux. He split time at quarterback as a freshman, throwing for 951 yards and nine touchdowns with three interceptions that year. As a sophomore the lefty was fifth in the state in all classes in passing yards with 2,396. He had 33 TD passes and just five interceptions.
Last season Dekkers led all classes in passing with 3,641 yards, 614 more than his nearest competitor. He threw 48 TD passes and 10 interceptions while completing 61 percent of his throws. Dekkers, who stands 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, rushed for 574 yards. In the Class 1A state championship game he threw for 391 yards and five TDs and rushed for 122 yards and a score.
“His arm strength is his best asset, no doubt,” Schwiesow said. “He can throw the ball 76 yards in the air. There are a lot of kids who have good accuracy and good touch, but can you stand on the right hash and throw a 15-yard out to the left hash? That’s a next-level through, and Hunter makes that throw all the time.”
Meet me in St. Louis
Dekkers will be involved in the St. Louis regional, which will be held on April 14.
“I’m just going to keep lifting and working hard,” he said. “I’m not exactly sure how all this all works, but I have the videos and I’m really excited. I know I’m going to have to study coverages and know what to read besides just throwing the ball.”
Dekkers said while he is known as a big kid who can throw the ball where he wants it to go, he is a student of the game as well.
“I watch a lot of film,” he said. “I’d like to think I see the field well.”
Schwiesow said Dekkers competed in a similar style of competition called Air Attack last year in Sioux Falls, SD. Dekkers won that competition.
Dekkers is not getting too far ahead of himself.
“I just want to be myself and go out and perform to the best of my ability,” he said. “I want to go there and do what I can to make myself stand out. I want to show them what I can do. Just knowing I got invited is a pretty cool feeling.”
Not only will Dekkers have a college choice to make next year, but he probably will have to pick a sport as well. He also is an all-state pitcher. Last summer Dekkers went 7-2 with a 1.36 ERA and struck out 97 in 51 innings.
“I haven’t decided between football and baseball yet,” he said.
Dekkers said each sport has its strengths.
“I love being the quarterback,” he said. “I just like the feeling of it. I also love pitching. I’ve been doing it since I was little.”
Dekkers said the University of Iowa and the University of Nebraska have contacted him about baseball and the University of South Dakota has shown interest in football. That list is sure to expand.
In the meantime, he is the leading scorer on a West Sioux basketball team that is unbeaten on the season.
He is averaging nearly 20 points per game and is the Falcons’ assist leader, averaging more than five per game.
“I want our team to be the first West Sioux team to make it to state,” Dekkers said of his hoops goals for this year.
Dekkers said he never finds being involved in so many activities at such a high level to be overwhelming.
“I love it,” Dekkers said. “I love every bit of it.”