Pride of the Valley: Sean Chambers is Wyoming’s Last QB from Fresno State Backyard | Soccer

LARAMIE – Dejon Kelly laughs admits his timing could have been better.

The longtime football prep coach took over the Firebaugh High program in 2016 as former student Josh Allen was close to making a name for himself in Wyoming.

Kelly is now in his second season as the head coach of Kerman High, where Sean Chambers was the star quarterback before packing up his van and leaving for Laramie four years ago.

The ties between Allen and Chambers and the Central Valley of California remain strong.

“I love the central valley, it’s my home. I love Kerman and this whole area is close to my heart, ”said Chambers, who credits her mother, Britteny, a breast cancer survivor who works for an insurance company, and her father, John, who works for an insurance company. sheet metal company and coaches Pop Warner football, for his tenacity and work ethic. “It’s so unique and it instilled in me a lot of values ​​that I couldn’t get anywhere else, so I’m very grateful for it.”

After Allen wore a Firebaugh Eagles sweatshirt on his on-camera walk through the stadium earlier this season, Buffalo Bills fans bought 4,600 hoodies in seven days to raise $ 100,000 for the Firebaugh High Sports Department.

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“I think that’s pretty cool,” Kelly said. “Knowing him just before he became the Josh Allen he is now, he’s still that humble person. The school was inundated with calls (about the sweatshirt) and the NFL marketed it.

Chambers doesn’t quite have the Allen platform, but the current UW starting quarterback is doing what he can to give back to the community.

Before joining the Cowboys for fall camp, the double-threat quarterback hosted a passing camp at Kerman High this summer and gave the team a pep talk.

“It was great. He put on a really good camp. My son even went to camp,” Kelly said. “It was fun to see the kids responding to him and having a good reunion with Sean afterwards. .… He knows what it takes as a Kerman athlete to do that hard work and overcome adversity.

“We all have things to go through. He has been injured three times in the past few years and has had to overcome them. His message was to persevere.

‘Fro, you gotta check out that kid Sean Chambers’

Allen’s recruiting story – or lack thereof – has been well documented. Every FBS program, including the neighboring state of Fresno, ignored the raw physical phenomenon of Firebaugh coming out of high school.

After sending his own highlights from Reedley Community College to every school he could think of, Allen sparked interest in Eastern Michigan – where current Fresno State coach Kalen DeBoer was the offensive coordinator – and from UW.

Ironically, after sustaining a broken collarbone in his first game for the Cowboys in a 2015 loss to Eastern Michigan, Allen became a Top 10 pick and is now a Most Player candidate. useful to the NFL for the second consecutive season.

“I’m telling you what, Josh Allen would have given his left leg to go to Fresno (State), and they took a guy who was 6 feet tall,” UW head coach Craig Bohl said this week. “We’re not interested in the guy who’s been to every quarterback and Elite 11 camp and only plays quarterback and if he can’t do very well he’s going to be transferred.

“We are looking for a team guy. It was Josh Allen.

On a subsequent visit to Firebaugh High, longtime UW assistant Pete Kaligis spoke with Kelly to see if there were any other hidden gems the Pokes should know about in the area. .

Chambers, a rugged quarterback and baseball catcher, was suddenly on the Cowboys’ radar.

“Coach Kaligis was always coming to visit me at Firebaugh, and I was like, ‘Hey brother, you gotta check out that kid Sean Chambers because he’s going to be a guy,’ Kelly said. made.”

Bohl even took a seasonal trip to watch Chambers perform under the Friday night lights at Kerman High. The extra effort was needed to lure Chambers to Laramie after he initially engaged with Rutgers and also received interest from Fresno State.

“When I went to Kerman, what I saw was a small town, a farming community that was almost a carbon copy of Firebaugh,” Bohl said. “I think there were some common themes between Sean and Josh. … I also saw an incredibly competitive guy. Sean was there trying to block a punt and dived and landed on his head. And I was like, OK, here’s a quarterback who’s a catcher on the baseball team. You can clean up your fundamentals, but that DNA in terms of your competitiveness, it’s there.

“It was a neat and neat evening that I spent at the football game. They have some of the best tacos in the world out there, and I was able to come home and then we were able to close the deal and have it.

Bohl traveling from Laramie to Kerman, a town of 13,500 people 15 miles west of Fresno and 28 miles southeast of Firebaugh, made UW stand out in the recruiting process.

“The whole crowd wore red and there is only one person in the whole crowd who wears yellow,” Chambers said. It was Coach Bohl, which was pretty cool, I thought. The city thought it was cool too. It was a great feeling, a great experience.

Chambers paid an official visit to UW on September 30, 2017. The three-star prospect met Allen, who scored three touchdowns in a 45-10 win over Texas State.

Laramie’s size and the scene at War Memorial Stadium sold Chambers by becoming the next quarterback to leave Central Valley for the High Plains.

“I really felt at home here when I made my visit and knew this was where I wanted to be,” Chambers said. “(Allen) had nothing to say. Seeing that he’s 25 minutes away from where I’m from, I knew if he loved him, I would love him. We kind of grew up in very similar cities. I knew if he liked being here and enjoyed being here then I would.

“I have my own name”

Bohl thinks Chambers has a lot more in common with Allen than being raised in the Central Valley and playing quarterback at UW.

They were both tall and strong multisport athletes in high school. Both were developmental prospects who had to overcome injuries.

And they are both winners.

Allen led UW to the Mountain West Championship Game in 2016. The 6-foot-5, 237-pound NFL franchise quarterback has significantly improved his passing accuracy since returning from a shoulder injury in 2017 to lead the Pokes to a victory over central Michigan. in the potato bowl.

Chambers is 13-4 as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback, but 26 for 54 (48.1%) passing for 292 yards (146.0 per game) with two touchdowns, two interceptions and two fumbles lost in the last two games.

After overcoming three late-season injuries, including a broken leg last year in the opener at Nevada, Chambers is just happy to have the opportunity to correct his mistakes and play again this week.

And his teammates have their backs after last week’s tough outing in the 24-14 Air Force loss.

“Sean is a great guy, and I know he will recover from any adversity he faces,” said defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole. “I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do because I think he’s going to do a show next week.”

The Cowboys (4-1, 0-1 Mountain West) will obviously need a quarterback rebound performance against Fresno State on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium (1:30 p.m., FS2).

Unlike Allen, who missed UW’s 13-7 home loss to the Bulldogs in 2017 due to injury, Chambers will have the chance to play against Central Valley’s favorite team.

“He will sell his heart and soul for the team, and people love to follow him. So that factor has always been there, ”Bohl said of Allen. “His ability to throw the ball over a rope has always been there. What hasn’t been there is his understanding of how to play the quarterback.

“And we hope Sean will follow the same path. He has the competitiveness, he has a strong arm, he has to learn how to play the quarterback better.

Chambers agrees with the comparisons to Allen and is up to the challenge.

The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-1) are led by Washington transfer Jake Haener, who is third in the FBS with 2,230 passing yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Chambers threw for 893 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions.

“Rome was not built in a day,” Chambers said. “I know Josh wasn’t perfect when he was in Wyoming. He was a guy who was developed and became the player he is today. It’s definitely inspiring. I know I have a lot of work to do and I don’t want to be compared to a guy like that because that’s him. I know he wouldn’t want to be compared to me because that is what he is.

“I mean, it’s good to be compared to Josh like that, but I’m my own player and I have my own name, so I’m just going to try to write my own story.”

Follow UW beat writer Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn

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