Many words may be unrecognizable from one language to another, but for Yuya Kohara, âHeisman' is not one of them.
A 20-year-old football player from Japan, Yuya is currently the backup quarterback for his school, Kyoto University. When asked if he knew who Chris Weinke was prior to coming to IMG Academy Yuya responded, âOf course, Heisman!â
Yuya and some of his teammates recently made the trip from Japan to the University of South Florida with IMG Academy football program coach, and consultant to Kyoto University, Tom Pratt. Often, coaches and players from Japan will make the trip to the United States to learn from American football. Based on NCAA regulations, the players were unable to participate in any drills and were forced to only watch and attend the meetings.
That is when Pratt invited the players to IMG Academy where they could fully participate and learn from IMG's experienced coaches. After only one session it was clear that Yuya could benefit from an extended stay at IMG and stayed behind for an extra two weeks while the rest of team headed back to Japan.
In Japan, Yuya plays on a field that is roughly half the size of a standard football field that is composed of mostly sand and dirt. He says that it can get rather crowded on a field that small. Yuya's practices last approximately five hours each day, rarely getting time off.
Friday is Yuya's last day at IMG Academy, and although his stay has been short, he says it has been quite beneficial.
âCoach Weinke has helped with my footwork, my throwing motion, and thinking process while playing,â Yuya said. âIt's stuff that they don't really teach in Japan. I feel a lot better after working with him.â
Yuya dreams of winning a championship for Kyoto, similar to what Tom Brady (his favorite player) has done for the New England Patriots (his favorite team).
"Yuya has been a pleasure to work with throughout the two weeks," Weinkenotes. "He is a dynamic athlete that is extremely coachable and a student of the game. He has the ability to throw the football with accuracy but also has escapability and the tools to make plays with his feet. Delivers the ball with good velocity and anticipation. I look forward to following his progress as he continues to improve."
Yuya will begin spring practice with his team May 6th and is looking forward to utilizing his new skills as he competes for the starting quarterback position in the season ahead.