|By Christopher Lyke
Texas HS Football Chief Editor
Should I go and attend a college summer camp? This question comes up quite a bit and with good reason. There is a bit of confusion on what is legitimate and what is not so legitimate. Keep in mind, there is also a difference between a camp and a combine. We’ll cover this towards the end of this article. So with that said, let’s get the basics out of the way on what is legitimate and what is not so legitimate in terms of camps and whether or not you should attend them.
What is a legitimate College Summer Camp?
There is a 98 percent chance, that any camp listed on the college or university’s own athletic website is an official camp run by the college coaches of that designated college or university and often are coached and taught directly by the same coaching staff you see roaming the sidelines each and every college football weekend. These camps are the legitimate ones that are worth attending. We have a working list of links, dates and information to these College Summer Camps by clicking this link.
Any camp that charges an arm and a leg and claims to have NCAA Division I coaches running their camp not officially run by the college and is not at a college campus is a camp that is not legitimate. If a college coach is running a commercialized camp or participating in one, it would be considered a violation of the NCAA rules and bylaws. It is always important to do your homework when looking at those camps. As far as the Nike Camp and the National Underclassmen Combine Camps go, those are legitimate services running legitimate camps. They do not have NCAA coaches, but they do have ex-coaches with lots of connections and ways to relay their information to the colleges.
Basic Advice and Rules to follow
Now that we have established what is legitimate and what is not legitimate in terms of summer camps, let’s examine the reasons why you should attend a summer camp and give you some advice on attending these camps:
The first piece of advice when looking over a schedule of camps, attend as many as you can within your own budget. Cannot stress this enough, you may have a dislike for one school and have been a lifelong fan of another, but do not under any circumstances limit your choices and eliminate a school just because they are the enemy of your favorite school. If you limit your choices, you in turn, will be limiting your exposure to these very college coaches. All of these schools have top quality education. If it turns out the one school that offers you a full ride is the school you grew up to hate, you will have to make a decision to take that education or swallow it and the opportunity with your pride.
Because these camps are essentially run by the college coaches themselves, these camps are in many ways, what you can consider a try-out or a way to get your name out to these coaches and to the school itself. You may be the big alpha-male and star on your own school yard, but when you arrive at these camps and on campus, you are a small fish in a big pond. It is your job at these camps to make a solid impression. Think of a camp as if it were more like a job interview for your dream job, which in a lot of ways, it is.
When at these camps, it is at the highest priority that you be on your best behavior and you stay focused on the camp itself for the entire duration. Your friends on facebook, twitter and text can wait and hear from you after you have completed the camp. The coaches will evaluate your every move and even your body language. Act like you want to be there and act like you want them to teach you every technique and trick in the book.
If a coach sees a lazy kid at a camp with an attitude and years later the same kid is up for consideration as a star player, the coaches that saw that same kid, will have to think twice before even considering them for their program. Much like a job interview and a blind date, a first impression goes a long way towards giving yourself that opportunity. Do not sell yourself short under any circumstances!
Communication is key at these college camps. Not only are you there to focus on the task at hand, you are there to interact. Interact with the coaches on every opportunity you can get. And interact with the fellow members of your group. College coaches actually encourage you to do this. If you sit back and not ask questions, do not communicate with colleges and group members, you give the impression instantly that you are not interested.
Coaches want the guy that is interested, they want the guy that is willing to take the extra mile and grab a bull by the horns. They want to see who steps up, who is willing listen and who is willing to succeed.
Last but not least in some key advice on College Summer camps, if you are out of shape or injured in a capacity that will limit your participation in any way, the best advice any coach or expert will give you is to wait until you are fully capable of performing at your best effort before attending these college summer camps. These coaches want to see you at your best and they want to see you give your best effort from the time you arrive until the time you leave.
The College Summer Camp experience serves a variety of purposes. Not only is it a camp about learning the game of football and fine tuning your skills, it is about you. It is about expanding your horizons, building your character and learning the basic lessons of life on and off the field. It is not just about football. It is your opportunity to shine and make your own name for yourself as an individual and as a team-worker.
What are combines?
Now that we have give you the basic overview and advice on what a college summer camp is, what exactly is a combine and why should you attend them or consider them? In a nutshell, a combine is a simple showcase of your skills and your ability to perform. Much like the college summer camps, there are legitimate combines and some not so legitimate combines. And as with the case of the camps, a Division I college coach cannot attend a combine in person. If they are there, they are violating NCAA rules.
As for what they test you on at a combine, here is a basic list, give or take a few:
40 Yard Dash
20 Yard Shuttle
The Nike Combines, National Underclassmen Combines, the ones run by the major recruiting networks and any major outlet that has connections to college coaching communities are legitimate combines. It is important that you do your homework and be wise on which combines are legitimate and which are not.
Do you want to succeed?
The more exposure you bring, the better the chance you will have at getting noticed. Unless you are a major star, the college coaches will not come to you. You have to knock down those doors and those barriers. The question you must ask yourself.. how bad do you really want it?
Once again, here is a working list of official College Summer Camps for 2012.