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A Parent's Guide to Football Camp: This is How we did it

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If you know of a family that would benefit from this information, please share the link below. Thank you- ChiefSmoke



This time of year, parents begin to ask me about summer camps for their son. Here is how I handled it when I coached my oldest son, John Combs.


He went to three tough camps that worked him hard and helped him improve at the linebacker position. Before his freshman season, he spent 3 days at the UK camp, working with Chuck Smith. Before his sophomore season, he spent three days at the Tennessee camp, working with Sal Sunseri. Prior to his junior year, he spent three days at the Notre Dame camp with Bob Diaco.


Google those 3 names... GREAT LINEBACKER COACHES!!


He got three tough days of hard work at each place with great coaching. At Tennessee, he had to compete daily with guys that were DBs in HS but thought they were too slow for that spot at UT, therefore they were working at LB. At Notre Dame, he primarily worked with guys that thought they were too small to be defensive linemen at that level, but were trying to play LB. John Combs had to work extremely hard to compete with those guys at camp and meet the expectations of this group of very demanding coaches. Coach Smith was tougher on him because of our friendship. At the other camps, he was just another guy... and that was good as well. At Tennessee when they got tired, they were instructed to put their hands on their helmet and stand up. When John Combs did that at Notre Dame, Coach Diaco asked him if he was surrendering and if not, take your hands off the top of your helmet! Lol. It was a great experience for him in so many ways.


To get a great work experience at camp, you do NOT have to attend a BCS camp. Georgetown College hosts a 3 day work camp. The Tigers have an outstanding program and do a wonderful job with the kids that attend there. Trosper will likely attend their camp at some point.



John Combs in the blue helmet one morning at Notre Dame camp, June of 2013. The golden dome in the background!


Before his senior season, John Combs attended one day camps at Princeton and Yale. Princeton's interest had been significant. Yale had shown a little interest.... and we wanted to visit Yale!


Looking back on it, I think we did it right. Spend the early part of HS working to get better. Before your senior season, and if the level of interest is significant potentially junior season as well, attend camps of the schools that are showing the most interest. If no one is showing interest, pick a school where your chances to play are the most realistic and attend their camp or camps their staff is attending before your senior season.


He also benefitted from having great position coaches at Mason County... Larry Harris, Chris Ullery, & Jonathan Thomas. He had very good defensive lines in front of him as a junior and senior. A strong defensive line is a linebacker's best friend because it makes it tough for the offensive linemen to block the linebackers. No amount of camp experiences can diminish the team concept that drives the game of football. Parents and players both need to remember that.


As a Dad, the trips to Notre Dame, Tennessee, Princeton, & Yale are great memories. I am really glad we did those. And, I believe that my son became the best football player he could become. Both individually and as a team, he enjoyed a bunch of success and had a very rewarding HS football experience.


If you have specific questions about your son and summer football camps, please email me at coachdavidbuchanan@gmail.com.


Bottom line, help your son enjoy the summer camp experience and playing HS football. It is a special time that goes by way too fast.



BlackShoes&WhiteShoeStrings: A Parent's Guide to Football Camp: This is how we did it

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Agree with the post. If I could add to it I would throw in a couple points. If your son is really wanting to play in college, attend a combine in their sophomore or junior year. Really gives them a sense of where they stand vs their peers from around the region and maybe what they could work on. Also going to a one day camp that has a lot of college coaches from D1, DII, DIII and NAIA schools helping. Univ of Cincinnati Under the lights the last few years is a great example. After camp was over the coaches sought out kids they wanted to contact or invite to a specific camp. Great exposure for your money and the competition among the players was very high. I am sure there are other camps like this around -- just have to do your research.

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My sons went to multi-day camps at Notre Dame, Michigan State and Alabama, the summer prior to the oldest son's senior year. His younger brother was going into his freshman year. They were roommates and made great memories. The oldest son made several senior "day" camps, too. He was a D-1 prospect and played initially at the D-1 level and then had a lot of fun playing D-III with his two younger brothers.

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  • 2 years later...
  • 1 year later...

Took my youngest son, Trosper, to Lebanon,TN today to check out the OnTopAthletics Exposure Camp.


The staff did a good job and the kids got a bunch of quality reps. There were college coaches there, but I don't know the details on those.


We did not attend to get "exposure". My son plays Quarterback (currently a sophomore) and we wanted to get a bunch of reps, work with some kids from other schools, make him get out of bed early, make him perform after a 3 hour car ride, etc. We approached it as an opportunity to work and get better and were pleased with the number of reps and the day as a whole.


He threw the ball well today and is really excited to start practice on Monday. He and his teammates, and some guys from other schools, have really worked this offseason to improve.


As a head coach, I wanted to check out this camp for my players down the road. It is something I would recommend going forward.... as long as they prepare well before attending.


Generally, I have our guys/families save money to attend on-campus camps. In this case, OnTopAthletics is a quality off-campus event. They run a good workout and do have multiple college coaches in attendance. Their events are worth checking out and attending.

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On 3/8/2020 at 10:06 AM, Football fan 73 said:

Any suggestions on linemen camps?

Research the O-line coaches at schools close to you. get a feel for who has some stability in position. Typically, 80% of the noise/hype at these camps are around the position players. Don’t get distracted by it. Focus on the lineman. The OL / DL always end up going through 1 on 1 drills at the end. They get great instruction 1 on 1. In our experience, lineman friendly camps were:

-best of the MidWest in Indianapolis (combine, so as someone else said here you can gauge where you’re at).

-Western Ky - great staff

-UK - the big blue wall mantra lives on through new coach  was very engaged entire time  

-west Virginia University- hands down best camp we attended from start to finish. 
-UC - good camp

- Marshall - new staff in place and big culture change happening  I see The Herd making a long run of success  

Other tips:

-always take a camp chair

-pack a cooler  long days sometimes in hot environments  remember, school is out during these camps and seasons haven’t started, so generally no concessions  

-stick around after camp breaks.  Majority of kids walk away.  I always made mine go up to head coach and introduce themselves, thank them for the opportunity, and tell them they want to be a part of the program.  Sell yourself!

-explore  explore explore  doors are all open and all schools are inviting  explore the stadiums and enjoy  

-take pics for your kid  they may not admit it, but they love it  


Remember, none of this matters if you don’t hit it hard in weight room Dec - May. You can tell who has used the off season to bulk up when the drills start. That is where kids “stocks rise”, the dedication when no one is looking. 

Good luck!!!


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