If you are one of the regulars climbing Badger Mountain, you might have seen the young man running by you this summer.
Jalen DeVine came up with an unusual workout to prepare him for his senior football season. Based on DeVine’s numbers so far, the Canyon Trail soon could become even more crowded.
The Hanford running back wore a 12- to 14-pound weighted vest and ran up Badger Mountain two to three times a week throughout the summer. Now that the season has started, he has cut back to once a week, though he no longer wears the vest.
“The first time I tried it, I was like, ‘Geez, this is really hard,’ ” he said. “I had to stop a couple of times, but I just wanted to keep doing it and doing it. I love it.
“It is strength, it is endurance and I think it is just mental. Once I get to the top, I just look over the Tri-Cities, and it’s a good mental picture. It feels good when you get to the top.”
The constant running up the Tri-City landmark certainly has paid off. DeVine has rushed for 740 yards on 86 carries and scored four touchdowns in the Falcons’ first four games, leading Hanford to a 3-1 record. The Falcons host Sunnyside at 7 p.m. Friday at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland in a nonleague matchup.
“When you run up (Badger Mountain), you have to keep high knees or you can’t go up it as well,” DeVine said of the benefits he has seen so far. “Also, it is a very long trail, and there are hard parts, steep parts. So, that can kind of relate to the game. When I’m struggling, I have to keep pushing through — like I do to get to the top (of Badger).”
DeVine’s work ethic is well known at Hanford.
Sometimes after games, he talks to coaches about hitting the weights, even though he just finished playing.
Having that kind of drive can pay off on the field, but that’s not the only place it has helped. He is a member of multiple clubs and, with a 4.0 grade-point average, could be the Hanford valedictorian.
“He has an unusual work ethic,” Hanford coach Rob Oram said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. He is a three-sport athlete, never misses anything. Goes to camp, plays doubleheaders, always at practices.
“He is intrinsically motivated and has a real passion to compete.”
That’s one reason everything is coming together this season.
After playing in just a few games last season, he has helped anchor an offense that has struggled to find its way at times this year.
The passing game is a work in progress, and the offensive line has been banged up.
“It’s like having another good lineman,” said Cody Kowalski, who plays center. “He can make a guy miss to make up for the mistakes we have made. He does well helping us out in that area.”
DeVine also uses his intelligence to make up for some of his physical limitations. He isn’t the fastest kid by any stretch, but he has the ability to make tacklers miss, and his balance keeps him on his feet after the first hit.
“He is so smart,” Kowalski said. “He’s probably the smartest guy I’ve played any sport with. He understands how every play is supposed to be run, and he gets the job done right.”
w Craig Craker: 582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter.com/Craig_Craker