Call them skills camps. Or, perhaps you prefer the term minicamp. Maybe you want to slap a school-specific name or advanced, elite or senior on them to dress them up. No matter what you call them, they exist across the collegiate football landscape: one-day camps for college coaches to truly interact with the players they are recruiting.
At around $40 a pop, these camps are not the big business that the sleepover youth camps have grown into. Rather, these are sessions where schools look to pack in the best of the best for a chance to watch the players compete.
Compete is what the kids do, hoping to earn offers, and many times coaches walk away with commitments pledged to their school.
College coaches cannot attend the regional and national 7-on-7 events that have risen to prominence in recent years. Nor can they go to the combines that try to help kids learn skills and compete against elite competition.
Enter the one-day camp. It is a cost-effective means to get the kids onto campus that coaches have checked out during the spring evaluation period and have been watching on film, hearing about on the 7-on-7 circuits and working to contact.
The increasingly aggressive nature of recruiting, the fact that offers come out earlier as coaches get more focused and that players are taking more interest in first offers and longer recruiting relationships work together in this instance. What used to be exclusive events for rising seniors have now expanded to include limited juniors (Ohio State), 10th and 11th graders (Texas A&M and Penn State) or everyone from rising freshmen to rising seniors (Auburn).
The message is clear: Get to know who these kids are. Get to work them out yourselves. Get in on that proverbial ground floor with them in the recruiting process.
And if they show you something you like, get them a scholarship offer.
If the kid you offered is only a rising junior, then so be it. As Penn Live said about Minkah Fitzpatrick, the 2015 defensive back who earned an offer at Penn State's Advanced Skills camp: He is out at the one-day camp working against the seniors you want in your program and he is not only competing, he is winning. A rising sophomore that shows true promise? Perhaps you do not offer him now, but you certainly put a pin next to his name with a blue chip so that you can start to build his interest in your program.
One-day camps are Junior Days where coaches actually get to watch the kids do more than walk around campus. The coaching staff coaches them up. Coaches get to see how they take coaching, how they react to competition and rebound from another athlete besting them.
Those are the circumstances that matter to collegiate coaches. Those are the circumstances that make up some of the daily life of the collegiate athlete. When players succeed under those circumstances, they earn rewards. Rewards like offers and interest.
Camp season is heating up on the college football landscape. Most schools have already had at least one of their one-day sessions and are looking forward to getting even more talent on campus soon. More kids are going to go to camp, more kids are going to get offers, and coaches are going to sit back and hope their offer is the one that their prized rising star decides is right for him.
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