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Turlocks Kevin Kramer is risking his health for one last season with Bulldogs
Turlock cutout
Despite accepting a baseball scholarship from UCLA for next year, Kevin Kramer decided to play one more season of high school football. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal

Near the end of July, Kevin Kramer doubted himself.

He was weeks away from his senior year at Turlock High, where he’s considered by one coach as “the best overall athlete” at the school. Part of the reason for that label is because by then, he had traveled the world to play baseball for Team USA. He later verbally accepted a baseball scholarship offer from UCLA, just one of many schools that offered.

He then went on to have a standout junior season, being one of the main leaders that led the Bulldogs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South Championship game.

Was there anything else to prove?

Well, there was this other sport he excelled in. By late July, he wasn’t sure about playing football again. There was the risk of injury, especially in his position: quarterback.

Kramer then missed the first day of fall practice and he didn’t like the feeling.

“The reason why I decided to play football is because I’ve been playing football since I was 9,” he said. “I can’t see myself sitting in the stands Friday night.”

Coach James Peterson and his Bulldogs are on a mission: They want to erase the memory of last year’s 0-10 fiasco. This time around, Kramer said he believes his team is stronger, bigger and more experienced on the offensive line — and that’s part of the reason why he returned.

“I’m really happy to have him,” Peterson said of Kramer. “I think it means a lot to our team to have his leadership. He has the qualities that make a good leader. Not only does he lead by example, but he’s a voice on the team. He’ll speak up and talk to the guys.”

Kramer’s situation is reminiscent of Colin Kaepernick’s. He graduated from Pitman High and is now the starting QB for the University of Nevada in Reno. After he signed his letter of intent to play football for the Wolf Pack in February 2006, the program’s coaching staff warned him about playing high school baseball that spring in fear of throwing out his arm.

Ultimately, Kaepernick felt that he owed his Pride baseball teammates one more season.

 “He’d have not accepted the scholarship to Nevada if he couldn’t play baseball,” said Colin’s dad, Rick Kaepernick. “That’s how strong he felt about it. It felt like it was something he owed his teammates, his coaches. And he just wanted to play.”
Essentially, the desire to play with his teammates was a big reason why Kramer decided to play football again despite the risks involved.

He also noted that UCLA, his future school, is fine with him playing.

“They were very supportive,” Kramer said of the Bruins baseball coaches. “They said, ‘You do whatever you wanna do. I understand if you don’t want to play, it’s your decision. If you play, go ahead. It’s your last year of football. It’s your last year of high school football and that’s what it’s all about.’”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.