When you think of scholar athletes, you have to take a look at San Ramon Valley (CA) linebacker Eric Yehl, who really defines the word "scholar". Yehl has been receiving interest from Patriot and Ivy League schools. Yehl transferred from Princeton High School (NJ) to his current school after his sophomore season. San Ramon Valley High School has a big annual rivalry with perennial national powerhouse De La Salle. Yehl and his team made it all the way to the sectional finals which was played at Raider Stadium in Oakland (CA).
On the field, Yehl is a very physical player at the point of attack. He will meet the ball carrier in the hole and drive him backwards with his strength. His football IQ is off the charts. He can diagnose a play and, with great anticipation, meet the ballcarrier before the runner gets to the spot. He knows how read his keys and the guards very well. At 6-1 and 215 pounds, he flies around the field always looking for contact and hustles on every play. Yehl is a tireless worker and loves getting better. He puts in hours in the weight and film room. He is a great leader and extremely coachable - always looking to learn more about the game. Not only is Yehl a good football player, he is also an outstanding student maintaining an astronomical GPA and 2300 SATs on his resume.
Steven Barsamian NUC: How are the offseason workouts going?
Eric Yehl: It's going really well. We basically got everybody on the team showing up for mandatory practices. We are working really hard with full pad practices for almost three hours a day. It's going really well and we are getting a lot better.
NUC: What would you say you need to improve on for this offseason?
EY: Well, I can always work on my explosion, agility, and speed. We are installing a new defense this year and we need to gel. I think we are really starting to pick it up. I also need to get bigger, faster, and stronger.
NUC: What would you say your strengths are?
EY: I am a cerebral kind of guy. I can make my reads quick. I can get to the ball fast. I have great agility and quickness. I'm a good tackler and I'm powerful, physical, and I'm a team leader.
NUC: What are your expectations for your team next season?
EY: We expect to get back to Raider Stadium and play for our section championship. I expect us to really come together as a team. I mean they are my best friends out on the field. It is going to be a really good experience.
NUC: What are your individual goals for next year?
EY: Well I want to lead my team in tackles. I want to make first team all league. I want to be looked up to as a leader on the field and off the field. I want to focus on the balance between football and academics.
NUC: What's the difference between Cali football and NJ football?
EY: Well the program is a huge, massive step up. We have 65 kids on our varsity where in New Jersey that was the amount of kids in our entire program. The entire town and school are really committed to our program. So that really motivates and inspires our team to really play hard. It is a really great atmosphere to play in. Our coaches are really dedicated and our practices are always lively.
NUC: Favorite TV show?
EY: The USA shows are my favorite to watch. Suits is a great show.
NUC: Favorite quote?
EY: Well I don't live by very many quotes. I don't remember many quotes. If I see one, I like it for a day or so.
NUC: Pregame music?
EY: Not super intense stuff. Something to get me calm and collected. It is definitely a mix of rock and roll, rap, and techno. Everything really.
NUC: Favorite book?
EY: I like Great Gatsby. The author Fitzgerald thinks the way I think, and I found that pretty crazy.
NUC: So you have been attending camps, what camps have you been going to?
EY: The camps have been going really well. I have done a few camps out in California. Out here on the east coast I have been attending some Ivy League camps. I felt I have done very well, but I don't think my speed is up to what I want it to be, although I am definitely improving on my speed. I have been showing my work ethic at the camps. I have been impressing the coaches, so I am very happy.
NUC: What are future plans for camps?
EY: Well I'm on the East coast for about another week. I am going to attend the UPENN camp. After that I'll go back to California to be at my team's summer camp. We have been working really hard and I feel like I have been missing a lot while I'm bouncing around camps. I'm ready to get back.
NUC: How did you like the Bucknell camp?
It was a really nice campus. Obviously they have good athletics and they play some big teams. It is a great school. They have a good tradition and legacy.
NUC: How did you like the Princeton camp?
EY: The Princeton had a very uptempo camp, which was great. The energy between the drills was great because the coaches really push you. I felt I was working hard but at the same time having a good time. There was a lot of competition at the camp, which I liked. I felt I excelled out there with the great competition. I liked the Princeton camp a lot.
NUC: How was Yale?
EY: I didn't go to their camp, I just visited with a few of their coaches and toured the facilities. It is obviously a great school and I like them too.
NUC: You are obviously a good student, how do you balance school and football?
EY: Well football really balances things for me. I really get at it in the classroom and when 3 o'clock rolls around, that is the time when I can shift gears. Not necessarily turn it on but turn on a different part of me. I can't have one without the other. So I need to challenge myself academically and on the field. That is the way I have always been.
NUC: Academics are obviously important to you, does it matter what part of the country you want to go to school at?
EY: I would like to go to school back east. It is where I am from. It's just familiar to me and the Ivies have a great reputation. They have a lot to offer me and I have a lot to offer them.
NUC: Do you have other sports that you like to play?
EY: Yea I wrestle. I started wrestling late in middle school to work on getting low and fortifying my agility and toughness.
NUC: How has wrestling helped you in football?
EY: It has given me really light feet. I can bounce around really quickly. It helps me stay low. Wrestling is a mental grind and it helps me in the fourth quarter and the long drives where you really have to put in the work.