For those who have been finding so many negatives when it comes to college football programs hosting satellite camps across the country, maybe you need to ask four South Florida high school prospects who watched their lives change last Saturday morning.
For the detractors – such as Alabama’s Nick Saban, who truly have still not grasped the importance of hosting these summer events – being in attendance for an early morning camp at Ives Estates Park in northern Miami-Dade County, provided the reasons why these events have been created.
When head coach Willie Taggart and his University of South Florida football staff hosted athletes from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties for a chance to get better and gain exposure, something happened in that three hours. Something that may have changed the perception of these “pop-up” events that are giving high school football players a chance for additional exposure.
Even after five weeks of spring practice, many locals never got the college coaches to make that commitment and offer some top prospects who have been overlooked. That all changed on Saturday.
As Taggart and his staff took nearly 100 locals through drills, they could plainly see that many of these prospects, passed over in the spring and throughout the past season, had the talent to play at that level.
For Dr. Michael Krop receiver/safety Randall St. Felix, who had an outstanding spring and easily outplayed some of South Florida’s “elite” prospects, the offers never came in – until last Saturday.
As he dominated during the drills, it was evident that 6-foot-1, 195-pounder was indeed a prospect that USF would love to have. As he headed home after putting in the work, this solid football player received the news that he had long hoped for.
“This is huge and you cannot thank Coach Taggart and his staff for hosting an event where they could watch and make that decision,” St. Felix pointed out. “Having a decision maker like the head coach right there to watch, there are no games to be played.”
The NCAA’s decision not to let head coaches out during the spring evaluation period is archaic and has no basis. It has hurt so many football prospects – because the assistant coaches – although they can evaluate, cannot offer without the approval of the head coach. It is something that many colleges have been surprised by since the rule went into effect over a decade ago.
“The NCAA never put thought into something so important like this,” said Dana Wiley of Prep Films. “It’s so plain and simple to see that it angers everyone – especially because of all the other things that the NCAA ‘turns its back’ on.”
The satellite camps have indeed brought back the head coaches getting out and watching the athletes perform live right before their eyes. That has been a game-changer at a few events, but when four prospects get that coveted college offer in one morning, there is no getting around the potential success of these offseason events.
For Monsignor Pace standout athlete Divaad Wilson, who has played every position for head coach Joe Zaccheo’s Spartans this past season, he was regarded as a talent who was overlooked during the spring.
At the USF event, playing in the defensive secondary, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder brought his game to the next level, and it paid off. His offer came after the USF coaching staff boarded the bus back to Tampa.
“This is something I have worked hard to achieve since I started playing the game,” Wilson explained. “All those people who have had so many negative things to say about these satellite camps are wrong. I am proof of that. Without this camp out here today, there is no offer.”
The experience for these athletes in such a competitive area like south Florida is for football is something that other areas cannot relate to. When you have nearly 200 Division-I level prospects, it’s easy to be overlooked.
Piper head coach David Coleman, who has been a part of the recruiting process as a player at Hollywood McArthur, and now with the Bengals, has taken his athletes everywhere to gain exposure. On Saturday, he brought a number of his prospects to the event, and for speedy cornerback Bryand Rincher, it all paid off.
One of Florida’s fastest football players, Rincher turned heads and the USF coaches were impressed enough to extend an offer.
“You ask any high school football coach in the country who puts the time in by sending out film and pushing their players to colleges and universities, and all will tell you that having a camp like this will be more beneficial to everyone than anything they held in the past,” Coleman pointed out. “While Bryand has had looks because of his speed, USF made sure that they recognized what he does on the football field as well.”
In addition to St. Felix, Wilson and Rincher, there were so many talented football players who came out from as far away as Naples and as close as North Miami Beach, Mourning and North Miami. For Miramar offensive lineman Sebastien Dolcine, this has been a tremendous spring. His appearance in Gainesville (University of Florida) and Orlando (UCF) last week for events had college watching this 6-foot-4, 270-pounder. With a need for big men up front, USF also made a decision to offer this talented prospect after the event as well.
“I can speak for myself after working so hard to push these young men over the past year, but these satellite events really help in the process,” Miramar head coach Pierre Senatus said. “It is giving college head coaches a chance to see these young men perform right in front of their eyes, and yes, that makes a huge difference.”
For those who have been anti-satellite camp because they have little clue how the process really works, maybe you need to focus in on something else – like making sure you put pressure on the NCAA to start letting college head coaches out during spring to speed up recruiting.