At 6 feet 8 and 285 pounds, Andrew Albers could move whoever lined up against him. His size is what gave him a chance to join the University of Utah football program.
While his senior classmates at Costa Mesa High wrapped up their spring, Albers spent it with the Utes. Everything appeared to be going well during spring ball. Frank, Albers' father, said his son was getting stronger and bigger.
Despite the growth, Albers decided to step back from the game. Rather than move defenders around, Albers now wants to move kids in the right direction as a youth pastor.
Albers said he has walked away from a preferred walk-on spot with the Utes. He said his reasons for leaving Utah took the Utes' coaching staff, former high school coaches and teammates, friends and family members, by surprise.
"I just got over playing and I didn't like [the state of] Utah," Albers said of his decision to leave the Utes, who joined the Pacific 12 Conference this season. "The football there was really good. It was a good football experience, but it just wasn't for me. Nothing against the school. The school was great. They treated the players well and did everything right.
"I just got burned out and didn't want to do it anymore."
Albers told his father about his decision two days before the Fourth of July. Frank had a hard time with the news because it contradicted what Albers told him earlier.
One day, Frank said Albers informed him he was getting used to Utah. Less than a week later, after taking a camping trip with his church, Harbor Trinity, at Hume Lake, Frank said everything changed.
"Something happened at the church [outing]," said Frank, adding that Albers told him, "I don't want to go back [to Utah]. I'm done. I want to become a youth minister," when he returned.
"Me and his mom [Kris] tried our darndest to talk him into going back to play. Certainly to give it a year and make sure to go through a whole year and see what it's like. We were both disappointed that he didn't give it at least a whole year. At the end of the day, he's a big boy and it's his decision."
Albers has moved back home and has enrolled at Orange Coast College, but he will not play football for the Pirates this season. Frank is hoping a year away from football will do Albers some good.
Albers, who shared the Orange Coast League Lineman of the Year award and earned Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team honors last year, plans to relax and spend more time with his church.
"Ever since two years ago when I found my faith, I've been into it and I feel that you need to do what really makes you happy," said Albers, who grew tired of football's schedule. "The whole day is football, from the time you wake up and go to school, to when you go to sleep. It's all work. It's like working full-time and going to school at the same time.
"Everyone has been supportive [of my decision]. Football is not for everyone."
The Corona del Mar High wrestling camp enters its final week on Monday and the Sea Kings have a special guest.
Jason Lara, who wrestled last year at Oregon State, will work out with the wrestlers during the five days. Lara, a former Calvary Chapel standout, won a CIF State title in 2007 as a 119-pounder.
Ryan Montgomery, an assistant at CdM, said the second week of the camp costs $250 and it runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information, call Montgomery at (314) 882-0373.
DAVID CARRILLO PEÑALOZA may be reached at (714) 966-4612 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.