HEPPNER — Tim Camp is not a coach who likes to see talent go to waste.
The Eastern Oregon University football coach didn’t have to look far this year to find some of the top talent in the state — La Grande High School is just a couple of blocks down the street, and his son Walker Camp is part of a talented trio from Pendleton.
Just a bit further down the road, Camp snapped up versatile Mason Lehman from Heppner, and Logan Weinke from Pilot Rock.
“My goal is to show the west side of the state that the east side kids can play,” Camp said. “I’m pretty danged excited.”
Lehman said he has wanted to play college football since he was in the sixth grade, and that EOU has been his top choice since his freshman year.
“I like the campus,” he said, “it’s a small place like I’m used to. I will get a chance to prove myself.”
Lehman, who helped Heppner to a 13-0 record and the 2A state title, is a player who has a lot to offer.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Lehman caught 33 passes for 612 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also had 51 tackles and returned eight punts for touchdowns.
Lehman was a first-team pick in the Blue Mountain Conference at wide receiver and defensive back. He earned the same honors on the 2A all-state teams.
“You see how hard a worker he is, and that program is one of the best in Oregon,” Camp said. “I like to gauge whether he could be another guy at the 5A or 6A level, or if he would have stood out. He has a rare ability. He could have played at that level. He has great football instincts.”
Heppner coach Greg Grant is looking forward to watching Lehman on Saturdays.
“Mason had a great career at Heppner High School,” Grant said. “I look forward to watching him continue to play the game he loves.”
Lehman said he looks to redshirt his freshman year so he can get a school-sports balance.
“I want a chance to see what it’s all about,” said Lehman, who wants to major in kinesiology, with a minor in sports science.
Lehman is not the first Heppner player Camp has brought into the fold (lineman Patrick Collins is there), and will not be the last.
“I go down every summer and help with a camp,” Camp said. “Coach Grant gets the most out of his guys. The one thing I learned is that you don’t get locked into one position. If the teams needs you somewhere, that’s where you go.”
Weinke (5-9, 155) had 1,145 receiving yards for 16 touchdowns. Defensively, he had 65 solo tackles, 25 assists, two sacks and an interception.
He earned first-team SD3-West honors at receiver and defensive back, and was a 1A all-state honorable mention selection at both positions.
“He does a lot of really good things,” Camp said. “They all need to get in the weight room and get ready to play a more physical style of football. We have 110 kids who were all the best player at their school. Our job as coaches is to get them ready.”
Camp also picked up Parker Robinson, Nathan Reed, Spencer Gerst, Gabe Shukle and Blaine Shaw from La Grande’s 4A state title team, along with Pendleton’s Camp, Tanner Sweek and Travis McGee.
He also brought in a couple of other top small-school players in Drew Lusco from Grant Union, and Vale’s Colton Kesey.
“This is a special group of kids,” Camp said of his 2020 recruiting class. “It might be one of our best.”