If Hazen High School’s Corbin Walker isn’t clutching a football, chances are he has another item in his grasp.
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Walker’s second-favorite activity is watching YouTube videos. He will spend hours and hours researching football skill-development tutorials.
“Most of the time my mom gets mad at me when I have it at the dinner table,” he said.
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Of course, his biggest labor of love is football. He is Hazen’s dependable do-everything senior, and he is one of only two returning two-way, all-NPSL Cascade Division first-team players in the league.
Last season, he led the Highlanders with 62 receptions for 870 yards and eight touchdowns as an outside wide receiver. On defense, he picked off two passes and had nine pass breakups as a shutdown cornerback. He was also a returner on special teams, and was named the division’s all-purpose player of the year in 2017.
“He had a great year last year,” said Hazen coach Chris Bennett, who noted that Walker has never missed a snap in the past two seasons. “He is one of the guys we joke about as a staff, because he runs forever. No matter how many routes he runs, or (repetitions) he gets on defense, he never gets tired.”
Walker admits he has a social-media obsession, and takes great pride in the fact that he and his family produced his first YouTube football highlight video when he was a 12-year-old playing for the Benson Bruins.
The 2012 video included nearly five minutes of game footage, showing him making one-on-one tackles in space, hauling in long touchdown passes and breaking off big-chunk kickoff returns.
“I was hyped up a little bit with that video,” Walker said. “It was cool. It had nearly 2,000 views.”
Yet, it was a taped lowlight from Nike Football’s “The Opening” that fed his desire to study instructional videos.
“It was my freshman year, and I got burned pretty badly as a defensive back,” he said with a chuckle. “So I always go back to that.”
That bad memory feeds the video-watching frenzy. Walker claims he has viewed every route-running video on YouTube, and says he has paid particularly close attention to the tutorials of Doug Baldwin, the star wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks.
“His routes are crisp, and he has great hands,” Walker said. “I see myself a lot in him.”
In 2015, Walker joined Ford Sports Performance, a high-intensity training facility where some of the Northwest’s best football players, including Seahawks and University of Washington products, go.
Walker has not only refined his route-running skills working with Denzel Robinson, the younger brother of former NBA guard Nate Robinson, he has improved his speed.
As a junior, Walker was running the 40-yard dash in the 4.7-second range. But he has dropped into the 4.6s.
“Training there,” Walker said, “has changed my life.”
Even though he has garnered mild interest from FBS schools — Air Force, Montana State, Northern Colorado and Northern Iowa have offered him scholarships — that could pick up given the fantastic summer he had.
In July, Hazen captured the title at the Cougars Championship Passing Tournament at Lakewood High School, which is one of the largest seven-on-seven passing league competitions in the region.
Walker was one of the camp’s biggest standouts.
“We are counting on him … to catch 75-100 passes this year,” Bennett said. “He is very quiet, and very reserved. But once the game starts, he is a super competitor.”
NPSL Valley Division
Three teams to watch
Hazen: Chris Bennett’s spread attack should lead to high-scoring games — and wins. All that is left for this senior group is earning Highlanders’ first state playoff berth since 2012.
Federal Way: It is hard to fathom that after six consecutive postseason trips, the Eagles failed to make the playoffs last season. They’re still talented, and hungry to get back.
Kentlake: Brett Thompson has taken the Falcons to the playoffs in each of his three seasons. Offense should be dynamic with dual-threat QB Hudson Potts at helm.
Four players to watch
Trey Davis, Federal Way, Sr., RB/DB
USC commit will play all over the field — at slot receiver and in the backfield on offense, and cornerback, safety and some linebacker on defense. A dynamic playmaker ready to bust out.
Vance Dumas, Hazen, Sr., OL/DL
The NPSL Cascade Division’s reigning defensive lineman of the year is the division’s most immovable object at nose guard. He can blow up the middle of an offensive line on pure strength.
Carson Lucas, Kentlake, Sr., TE/LB
A year after suffering a broken leg, Lucas became the Falcons’ most reliable pass catcher in 2017 — and is their only all-NPSL Cascade returner. Wherever he lines up, he is a mismatch for any defender.
Alphonzo Tuputala, Federal Way, Sr., TE/LB
Nobody surveys the field better than this returning all-NPSL Olympic middle linebacker, who had eight FBS offers before giving the UW an oral commitment. Expected to play more defensive end in 2019.