Even after the crowds died down, Austin Fort kept throwing.
The Wyoming prospect camp, technically, was over. UW head coach Dave Christensen had talked to the group of about 100 high school prospects, thanking them for coming and urging them to return for games in the fall. Recruiting coordinator Matt Rahl made it official, standing in front of the group and saying, “You are dismissed.”
But while most players flooded out the doors of Wyoming’s indoor practice facility, meeting with parents who had watched the camp’s drills from along the sidelines, Fort remained.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Gillette quarterback went through a private workout with the coaches, throwing all kinds of routes as Christensen watched attentively from behind.
For Wyoming, Fort’s athleticism was never the issue. They knew he could run, and Fort’s 4.7-second 40-yard-dash on Saturday confirmed that. They knew he had size, an obvious fact as his head consistently poked above the crowd.
The question was, and still is, his accuracy.
Earlier, Fort had thrown twice on the run, once rolling out right and the other rolling out left. Each ball hit the ground with a thud, skipping into the feet of his intended receiver.
He had better results in the after-hours workout, setting his feet and delivering the ball accurately on deep fades, crossing patterns and outs. Occasionally, though, a ball would sail high or wide, causing Fort to slap his hands in frustration.
His audition here, he knew, could make the difference between getting an offer to play at Wyoming or heading out of state to pursue his gridiron dreams.
He's generally considered the state's second-best football prospect in the 2014 class behind Natrona County lineman Taven Bryan, who already holds an offer from UW. The state's incoming senior class is considered one of Wyoming's best in recent memory.
“I just wanted to show what I could bring to the program and try to prove myself as a quarterback. That’s all I’m trying to do,” Fort said after the workout. “They know me and I know them, and they just need to see me perform.”
Regardless of Fort’s performance on Saturday, the strong-armed quarterback certainly has other options. He plans to camp at Colorado in Boulder on Sunday, confirming that he has received interest from CU. Fort says he has also been talking to coaches at Colorado State and plans to attend a camp in Fort Collins in late July.
After the season Fort had with Gillette in 2012, the Division I interest isn’t unexpected. Fort threw for 2,137 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior, leading his team to the Wyoming State High School Class 4A Football Championship. The Star-Tribune Super 25 member also ran for 735 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first season after transferring from Orlando., Fla, to Wyoming in January 2012.
Fourteen touchdowns through the air. Ten touchdowns on the ground. As Gillette coach Vic Wilkerson confirmed, that’s a true dual threat.
“One of his biggest strengths is his size and speed. He’s a 6-foot-4, 200-pound quarterback that runs well, so we use that dual threat in the run and the pass game,” Wilkerson said. “He’s got the speed where when he gets into the open field, he can create plays.”
That athleticism was on display Saturday at UW's Indoor Practice Facility. In a broad jump drill, Fort easily outdistanced the players around him.
He finished the drill first by a wide margin, turning around and politely waiting while the rest eventually met him on the other end.
Fort has something else, Wilkerson says, that can’t be measured in inches or seconds.
“He’s a high character kid -- very good student in the classroom, and very good leader in the community. He’s a great teammate,” Wilkerson said. “He leads by example, and his teammates follow him.”
So, did Fort show enough accuracy on Saturday to earn an offer from his home-state university?
For the Gillette quarterback, that’s the big question. And until Fort gets his answer, all he can do is keep going to camps and trying to impress.
“Right now, I’m just trying to get myself as much exposure as possible before I have to make a decision,” he said.