U.S. Naval Academy recruits PCHS football players
July 7, 2009
On June 27, Park City High School (PCHS) seniors-to-be Dylan Chynoweth and Erik Walker were ready to hit the showers after the final day of an offensive football camp in Annapolis, Md. But as they walked off the field, they were intercepted by Ken Niumatalolo, the head coach of the United States Naval Academy’s football team.
Niumatalolo, who had been watching the boys throughout the camp, offered each of them a spot on the 2010-2011 Navy football team. "We had been talking to the coach all week, but it was a surprise," says Walker. "It was awesome."
"I was so excited," Chynoweth adds. "It was really special."
Walker and Chynoweth were attending the camp with coaches and other members of the PCHS football team. When Brandon Matich took the helm of the Miners’ football team four years ago, he installed a new offense identical to that which Navy uses. Each year, Matich takes several Park City players to Niumatalolo’s camp.
Walker and Chynoweth attended the camp for the first time last summer, and that’s when the pair caught the eye of Navy recruiters. Walker plays quarterback and free safety and Chynoweth plays tailback and safety for the Miners.
It’s the first time Navy has given what are termed "early offers" to players from Park City. Should they choose to accept, Chynoweth and Walker would be the first Park City students ever to play football at the Naval Academy.
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"It’s a pretty big deal nationwide to get early offers," says Mikey Collins, the running backs coach for the Miners.
Collins says that Navy coaches were most impressed by the players’ athleticism. "Dylan is a phenomenal running back," he says. "His speed and overall awareness of the game is exceptional."
Walker, who is the 3A state champion in the 100-meter run, has always had speed on his side. "Erik is just an overall athlete with blazing speed," says Collins. "Basically everywhere we go, he’s the fastest kid there. He’s very versatile I could see him playing defensive back, wide receiver, kick returner or something along those lines."
Both Walker and Chynoweth were named to the 2008 Utah 3A All-State Team after their standout performances for the Miners last fall.
Their athletic prowess wasn’t the only thing that caught the attention of Navy recruiters. "They said a big thing with us was that they liked our character and that we were good, smart kids. They like that we both have a good head on our shoulders," says Chynoweth.
Chynoweth and Walker, who started playing football together around age 8, have been best friends since middle school. They’ve talked about going to college together, but thought that getting offers to play on the same team was a remote possibility.
"If we could do that it’d be really cool," says Chynoweth. We both want to keep our options open, but it’s a good opportunity and it’d be fun to play in the same place together."
They have until February to decide whether the Naval Academy is where they want to go. "Right now Navy is my No. 1 school and that’s where I want to go most," says Chynoweth.
Walker, who says he’s dreamed of playing college football since he was a little kid, is also excited about the offer. "It’s a good school and a good opportunity for me. It’ll probably be one of my options all the way to the end."
Regardless of the decisions they make, the students feel like a weight has been lifted going into their senior year. Instead of furiously applying for colleges, the duo will have more time to focus on playing the game they love.
"It takes a big weight off my shoulders to know that there’s something there and I don’t have to stress about it all season long," says Chynoweth.
"The fact that I know that I can go somewhere to play football no matter what is definitely a relief," Walker adds.
Navy plays in the NCAA’s Division I as an independent team (it is not a member of any conference). Graduates must commit to a minimum of five years of military service. For more information on the U.S. Naval Academy football team, visit http://www.navysports.com .