Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stark County Pre-season Jamboree

Had an early Christmas present yesterday at Fawcett Stadium. In conjunction with East-West All-Star Game, Fawcett Stadium hosted a 7on7 football jamboree. For me, the time was valuable and very worthwhile. The old man felt good after standing in the 90+ temperature for 6 hours. As "corny" as it may sound, any time that you can work with kids, heat means little.

In the morning teams from Lake, Fairless. McKinley, Minerva, Glenoak, Alliance,Hoover, Marlington,and Maasillon competed in the morning. St Ed's made the trip to Canton also. In the afternoon East Canton, Jackson, Canton South, Perry, Louisville, St Thomas Acquinas, Sandy Valley, Tuslaw, Northwest, and Central Catholic threw the ball around.

Head Coach Ron Johnson (Canton McKinley) had much to do with the organizing and everything went smoothly. Coaches made up their own game plans and worked very well together. The competition was intense, but there were no unsportsmanlike play. Due to the tradition, this really surprised me.

Now McKinley and Massillon did not play each other, but the class of Ron Johnson and Jason Hall was very evident. I am "old school," but I applaude the character of both the kids and coaches for the level of play. No scores were kept. No trash talking. Just good competitive football.

I say all of this, but I would imagine the intensity and maybe a little "chatter" will pick up once teams keep score. Afterall, that is what Stark County football is all about.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Massillon's Devin Smith

Three years ago my good friend Joe Yost, head football coach at Akron Ellet, told me that he had one of the best young players in his coaching career. He went on to say that he was just as good a person, as he was a football player. But because of family, he would probably move to Massillon. He made the move.

Devin Smith has developed into the best wide receiver in the Class of 2011. He has always had the work ethic. He has always had the excellent ball catching skills. He has always had the burst. Watching him this week in a 7on7 contest at Massillon, he now has improved strength and speed. This fall, if Devin will go over the middle and improve his blocking skills, he will have the "complete package." Add to this package is his ability to return kicks and punts.

Devin is faster when the ball is in the air. Very deceptive speed. Catches the ball in a crowd. Also impressive is his speed after the catch. The burst and speed to run away from defenders makes him a "big play" guy.

This week I have seen Braxton Miller and Devin Smith up close and personal. Both are in my top five in the Ohio Class of 2011. They did not let me down.

Braxton Miller

Jay Minton brought his Wayne High School skilled players to Capital University for some 7on7 yesterday. Wayne's highly touted QB Braxton Miller (an O-State commit) made the trip. I have watched Braxton since his freshman year and he never surprises me. Really wanted to see how he has matured physically and mentally over the last year.

Not 6'4 (as many say), but 6'3. Physically he looks good. I mean really good. Arm may be even stronger than before. Stands tall. Excellent, quick release. Mentally, always sharp. Had heard rumors that the recruiting hype was taking it's toll, but I do not think so. Good with me, anyway. Like to make him flash that big smile.

The major flaw with Braxton is that he has to slow the game down. Did not see it yesterday, but in live competition, even sometimes QB drills, he goes too fast. His body weight is over extended, but his strong, quick release gets him out of trouble. He will learn to control his body. When he slows the game down, he will be special.

As far as O-Sate fans, Braxton hates to travel. C-bus is a long trip. I am glad that he took out all or the recruiting hype and announced his decision. At his press conference. he did not upstage any university. Looked at the hats, and picked up Ohio State. In all of the silliness that goes on at some press conferences

As far as a QB, Braxton is a passer who happens to be a very talented athlete with excellent vision. He is not a thrower who also happens to be a tremendous athlete. As far as the future, the sky is the limit for Braxton Miller.


As many of my friends(maybe two) know, I am really guarded when it comes to media, probably more specific, internet media writing about high school prospects in the recruiting world. I realize for many it is their income and livelihood. Newspaper reporters are much the same. But the word I hear sometimes is "entitlement." For the most part that word bothers me.

Because they report for a national recruiting service such as Rivals, they are entitled to information from the coach or the parents or the prospect. Media feel they are allowed free admission to high school games, sideline credentials, and really free access to a prospect, anytime. The old head football coach in me has a hard time with that.

Here is the point. Every once in a while I feel that I am entitled to go any place on a football field. Yes, the "over-rated" McCallister feels this. Yesterday was one of those times. I was walking off the field after a series of plays and talking with a QB. An assistant coach for one of the city schools in C-bus yelled at his QB. "Get over. He (McCallister) is not important. This guy's important. (Pointing to the OC)."
WOW! He was right and I was wrong. Entitlement??

Needless to say, I walked away feeling like the "north end of horse, looking south." Apologized to the QB later. Entitlement? McCallister - not important. That might be the smartest comment that coach made all day. I needed that little lesson.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July - Enjoy Freedom

Over the last two weeks, six different parents have either called or emailed, and their first question was - "What else can we do for our son?" My simple answer is " relax and get ready for the season."

No more camps and definitely no more combines. This really applies to the underclassmen. Some colleges are hosting one day senior camps in July. The last chance for some seniors to convince the college coaches that they are scholarship quality. If I am underclassman, I am going to focus on what is ahead on the football field. Honestly, seniors should be doing the same thing. Bust your butt and impress the college coaches in those first three games.

Many high school teams are involved in 7on7 play. Great time to work on self-discipline and focus. Now teams are starting to compete and to think football. Some high school teams are running their own camps. Time to get yourself into the best physical shape possible and work on those fundamentals.

Do not worry about "offers" or "lack of offers." Offers are so over-blown that it is sad. Once a prospect gets the first offer, more will come. A MAC level school told me last summer that they offered a player, because some other MAC schools did. Some high school players make it a game. They try to force some college coaches to offer them, just so they can list the most offers. With internet sites like Scout and Rivals, offers make for more hits and more hits means more money. Of course, Scout and Rivals believe they are responsible for kids getting offers. How many offers are enough? Just a thought.

Remember the words "they like him," and " they are looking at him." High school coaches tell me this all of the time. The like hundreds of kids, adn, of course they at tons of players. But they are only going to give 25 scholarships. Do the math.

Use the month of July to have fun. Get away. Do things with the family. My point is enjoy yourself. Football is a long season. Do not get caught up in reading about yourself in the media. Do not get caught up in the college coaches' sales pitches. Do not get up in where you are rated by the recruiting analysts and experts. Do not take the high school football forums seriously. Just remembered something else -- MSROHIO may publish a list of prospects. Do not take that list serious either.

August is roughly three weeks away. If you think July is hot, August will be hotter. Coaches will be "on your case." School work will be important. Late meals. Aches and bruises will pop up. Hopefully, you will all be playing 15 games this year.

Enjoy July.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

7on7 the Best Way

Travis Moyer, head football coach of the very respected Wynford Royals football program invited me to watch a 7on7 practice at Wynford. Being maybe 20 minutes from my home, I decided to go. Glad I did.

North Union made the trip to Wynford for a little 7on7. Two games were going at once with both teams mixing in starters with back-ups. Neither team put their starters together. Neither team kept trying run up touchdowns. Niether team kept score. Coaches were constantly coaching up their players. Backups to the backups played the third series. Really enjoyed watching the teams play.

No real "no brainer" prospects at this 7on7, but some players who need to be evaluated. North Union has a two way player at FB/LB and a strong arm QB. The QB is at least 6'4 and moves well. Needs to work on his footwork, but his release is good. Warren Sheilds, the LB/FB runs well and changes direction okay. Although 6'2, he needs to add some weight. His strength may be his toughness. Neither prospect has a "real" offer and will have to impress coaches on early video.

Seems like I watch a ton of 7on7 contests. Some well organized; some not. Some have really good teams; some not. Some are too competitive; some are not. The bottom line here. Sometimes it is really fun to watch two teams play to learn and enjoy competing and not worrying about winning a trophy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gary Stevens Football Camp

Since they invite me every year and this year asked me to talk to the campers, I wanted to get a promo for the Gary Stevens Football Camp. A four day camp and it concludes today. The camp concentrates on QB's and WR's with some DB's to make for one on one competition.

Gary Stevens is from the Cleveland area, bit gained his credentials as QB coach at both the University of Miami and the Miami Dolphins. Gruff style relating to kids, but knows his stuff, and knows it well. Area high school coaches help, as do some area college coaches.

This year the camp was held at St. Eds in Cleveland. Room was alittle bit of a problem, but everybody got plenty of reps. Always enjoyable to watch kids' listening skills at work.

If you live in the Cleveland area, I would check it out next summer. There are so many camps out there, and picking the good ones can sometimes be hard. Over the winter, I think that I will comprise alist of both college and private camps available. Call it John's list.