Kyle Kempt (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)
Things like this happen all the time. A high school prospect goes to a football camp and earns a scholarship offer after going out and competing and showing coaches that he has the stuff that it takes to make it at the next level. Kyle Kempt went out and did just that this past weekend after attending the Jim Harbaugh Quarterback Academy at Stanford: He earned himself a coveted scholarship.
But Kempt's story has a twist; he hasn't played a down of high school football yet. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound quarterback prospect from Portland, Ore. was verbally offered by Harbaugh and the Cardinal Monday night - not a bad day's work for a kid who just did his matriculating from junior high not too long ago.
"I thought it was pretty crazy, but I'm also very humbled by it," Kempt told Scout.com Tuesday during a break from his team's camp at Gold Beach in southern Oregon. "I'm very excited. It's just amazing.
"I love coach Harbaugh. I love his competitive spirit and the way he coaches. I love listening to him."
While 8th graders getting offered is something of an anomaly in the world of college recruiting right now, expect it to happen more and more as the internet age breaks information as fast as a Bugatti Veyron can go from zero to sixty.
"I think he sees a big, physical kid; a very athletic kid, a very intense kid and a real good person," Barton Football Founder Greg Barton told Scout.com Tuesday. Barton is one of a few trusted mentors working with Kempt and his family through the recruiting process. "I'm assuming coach Harbaugh took a real liking to him. (Harbaugh's) whole career, he was known as a leader and a hard worker, and I'm guessing he saw some of those same traits in Kyle."
Barton would know. Kempt has been a fixture at the Barton Football camps since the second grade: At first it was just a way for Kyle to learn the game and the fundamentals the right way, while also watching older brother Cody go through the same process at the same time.
The older Kempt would eventually make an early commitment to the University of Oregon as a quarterback, despite getting recruited by Stanford. He signed with the Ducks and stayed two seasons before transferring to Montana State, the same school where his father Mychal played in the late 80's.
"(Cody) went through the recruiting process, so he opened up a lot of things and has helped me out a lot," Kyle said. "Since he's been through this, I'm going to look to him a lot to help push me through this."
And one of Cody's first pearls of wisdom to his kid brother? This is the time when you really start to pick up a work ethic. While Kyle is on Cloud Nine right now, the stark reality is that he has not played a down of high school football before.
"I'm very proud of Kyle," Barton said. "He's worked hard and got an offer from a fantastic school. He needs to be proud of that accomplishment, but he's moving into high school now. He'll be playing for coach (Chris) Casey at Aloha High School and he'll have a lot of good teammates over there. He needs to concentrate on high school football."
Kempt relishes the challenge. "I'm just going to keep competing and keep doing what I do," he said. "I just want to compete the hardest and win for my teammates. I want them to get recognized too. I'm hoping that coach Casey will give me a shot, but if I don't get one now it's not the end of the world.
"I'm still just a freshman."
But clearly Kempt is beyond his years. He's been training his whole life for this moment. Besides his work with the Bartons, Kyle has also hit some California camps; he's been a regular visitor to Bob Johnson's Mission Viejo-based camps the past three years.
"It just felt like a lot of things paid off," he said, matter-of-factly. "I was just going to go down there to see how I competed against the California kids. I thought I performed well, but I had no indication that (Harbaugh) was going to do that. I thought it was amazing, very cool."
A commitment wasn't in the offing, as temping as it might have been at the time. "It almost crossed my mind, but I thought about what Cody went through," Kempt said. "That's helped me. I just want to see all that's out there."
"Sometimes these early offers can backfire on a young kid or young family, but I feel confident because Kyle's older brother went through the process and his father also went through the recruiting process," Barton added. "He's grounded."
And by looking at his summer itinerary, he's not completely done with baseball or basketball either. Kempt said that he plans on playing all three sports at Aloha, noting that he's already played on three baseball teams this summer, and an AAU basketball team. While he's still very much earning his stripes on the football field, the Aloha baseball coaches invited him to play with the high school team this summer to get a head start on things, whether that might be on the mound or around the infield.
When the seasons change, his sports allegiances go out the window. In the fall, it's all about football. Winter? Hoops, baby. And the spring is usually all about baseball. The summertime? Who knows.
"But football is usually at the top," he said.
And even with an offer from a prestigious Pac-10 university in his back pocket, Kempt isn't going to rush into things. He's got plenty of time to sort it all out.
Kyle Kempt Scout.com Profile