Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Thoughts on the NIKE Football Camp

       Time to move on from the NIKE mystic of the combine last March and of the football camp last Sunday and Monday.
       But first, both the NIKE Combine and the NIKE Football Camp are tremendous marketing venues. I mean shirts, shoes, and other things for sale. Players get a free shirt and a bag and whatever was in the bag. HUDL, a video service that has taken by storm has also partnered with NIKE. Of course, NCSA was making their pitch. Be careful.
      First, I will say that the NIKE Camp is a really a good way to get better and improve your football skills. Really a good way to compete. Really a  good way to measure your talent against other talent. Really a good way to get some type of exposure. Most of all, it is FREE.
        A parent came up to me and asked when they were going to test. Test? She said that her son had scored well in the SPARQ at Massillon and wanted to improve his scores. Problem - they do not use SPARQ at their camp. After telling her that, much disappointment. Time for football drills and one on ones. Time for football and no more combines.
       Also had a parent from Maryland asked me to evaluate her son. A sophomore - short, solid arm, but that was all. I said that in such a short time, I could not evaluate her son and appreciated her speaking with me.
       A mother talked to me about her son, a senior to be from Northwest Ohio. Colleges are in contact with him and he will make the camp circuit. Her concern was that he was not "ranked" by any recruiting site. My answer, "Big Deal." If he has college coaches communicating with him, he will be okay. Rankings are only important to fans and college head coaches wanting to make a slash.
       Actually felt bad for the campers. For some reason NIKE must feel that the more non-football related drills that they do, the more parents, players, and fans will be impressed. The players were really tired, and one-on-ones had not really started. Football work drills are really important for all positions, but how long does it take for a "solid evaluator" to see what he needs to see.
       Speaking of one on ones. OLvs DL. If a DL guy does not win most of the time, he is not very good. If an OL guy gets beat more than he wins, so what. What I look for in DL guys - does he keep his feet moving, does he bend, and does he punch? Most important - does he have fire in his eyes. What do I look for in OL guys. Does he bend, can he slide, and does he lock out? Most important - does he hate to get beat.
      Speaking of one on ones part 2. DB's vs WR's. A DB always lines up nose to nose to the receiver. Almost touching him. Is this offsides in a real game? Of course. DBvsWR turns into a wrestling match. Move the defender 3 yards off. Now watch his backpedal, his handcheck, and , most of all, his recovery speed.
       A dad sent me an email this morning, including the evaluation that someone made of his son. He had never heard of his son, until the camp, but knew that his school did not throw much. The problem with many recruiting reporters is that do not watch as many prospects as they should. They rely too much on who the college assistant coach tells them to watch. And, yes, that is the way it works most of the time.
       Finally, with NIKE it is a marketing business. Granted some players get exposure. Usually, the ones who have the "big time commitment," or who have the huge offers, or who are rated 4 and 5 stars, are the ones headed to the "Opening.
       As I said earlier, NIKE combines and camps give players a big chance to get better. Ninety percent of the parents should go into this process with "eyes wide open." The one choice who goes to the "Elite Eleven," might be out of reach, unless your son has verbaled to a big time program. Getting invited to the Opening is tough, but possible. Warning - you do not have to go to a NIKE football camp to get invited to the Opening. Glenville kids did not.
        Anytime a player has a chance to get better, he should really look into it. NIKE is probably the best dance.

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