College Football Camps and Combines
There are over 850 college football programs and almost all of them host a camp each year. Coaches attend several more camps and combines each year where they evaluate potential recruits. The biggest mistake any football recruit can make is showing up to a camp or combine unannounced. This means, you have registered for the camp without contacting any of the coaches who will be attending. Below, we break down the various types of camps and what you should to do make sure you get the most exposure and recruiting benefits from each.
Learn how coaches use football scholarships here.
Camps and combines are only part of a complete football recruiting process.
College and University Camps
Colleges and universities camps should top every college football prospects list. Most schools host one day or multiday camps during the summer. These camps serve two purposes, first is to make the coaches and the school money. Second, is to get a look at the various recruits who have been contacting the coaches before camp and who are on their recruiting list. It is extremely important that you contact the coaching staff before you decide to attend their camp or you run the risk of just being another paid camper who isn’t being watched. You want every camp to have viewed your film and have them invite you.
As a recruit, these camp experiences allow you first-hand knowledge of the coaching staff’s style and attitude, the campus & facilities, and the surrounding atmosphere that the particular college or university is able to offer. These camps also offer similar advantages to the hosting coaching staff; they are able to interact, sometimes one-on-one, with the student-athletes. Coaches are able to evaluate an athlete’s athletic capabilities first-hand, their attitude towards football & other athletes, and leadership abilities.
College and university camps are not intended for new skill development due to lack of repetitions and an overwhelming player to coach ratio. Most of the skills learned at these camps will be short term.
Please note, solely attending a college or university camp does not guarantee “discovery” of you as a student-athlete. Instead, you should be diligent in your efforts to contact hosting coaching staffs before you attend their camp and ask to be evaluated.
Here are more tips on preparing for football camps.
Football Combines are non-contact “testing” camps. Combines are hosted by private companies and due to NCAA rules, have no ties to college coaching staffs. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. With over 1 million high school athletes, coach’s uses combine numbers to help identify potential recruits.
Under Armour, Nike SPARQ, and Schuman’s National Underclassman hold multiple combines around the country each year. Combine participants can expect to have their body measured (height, weight, etc), run the 40-yard dash, 10-yard dash, 5-10-5 shuttle (20 yard shuttle) & 3-cone drill, have their vertical jump & broad jump measured, max out on bench press repetitions at 185lbs, and participate in the sit and reach, grip test, & kneeling medicine ball toss. Given the nature of a combine, athletes act as individual participants. Often those hosting or participating in a combine will refer to the event as a showcase. The recruiting advantages and skills development are limited at these camps but the information gained from attending can be valuable to your resume and recruitment. Many combines release the results of its top performers to coaches around the country.
7 on 7 Football Tournaments
7-on-7 tournaments place 7 offensive players (quarterback, running backs, wide receivers, & tight ends) versus 7 defensive players (linebackers and defensive backs) in passing and limited run attack situations. The popularity of these camps are growing at an alarming rate as recruits and high school are finding this is a unique opportunity for them to get extra reps in the off-season and play some of the other top recruits. The NCAA is moving quickly to try and regulate these camps as they can open the door for third parties to get involved with recruiting, but the facts remain these are great opportunities to play other top recruits and get exposure.
Before playing in any tournament, you are going to want to know its track record and what recruits will be coming. If tournament continually attracts the top recruiting talent and has had several college player attend in years past, it would probably be a good idea for you to be there.
Corporate Sponsored Football Camps
Sponsored camps are put on by specific companies not having direct ties to any specific college or college coaching staff. These camps are great for skill training but lack the big school experiences and recruiting advantages that college or university camps might offer. A 2005 NCAA rule change disallowed Division 1 college coaches participation in sponsored camps as paid or volunteer personnel. This rule change decreased the overall merit of these camps significantly for athletes looking for Division 1 exposure.
Sponsored camps are hosted by company employees who are often former coaches and players. Occasionally these camps are also hosted by current D2, D3, NAIA and high school coaches or volunteers from the community. Unlike college or university camps, these camps are suitable for new skill development. Many camps cap enrollment to keep the player to coach ratio fair giving attending student-athletes the right amount of attention and repetitions.
“Private camps such as ours are best for developing skills and technique improvement”
- Richard “Dick” Dullaghan
Hall of Fame Coach and Co-Founder of Bishop & Dullaghan Football Camps
While some larger camps may be free, many times these camps come with entrance fees or are by invitation only. For some, these gates of entry are difficult to overcome causing a slightly lower star ranking. Notable company camps include Nike Football Training Camp, Bishop and Dullaghan’s, Under Armour Training Camp, Kohl’s Kicking Camp, and IMG’s football camps.
Celebrity Football Camps
Often current or former coaches and athletes decide to “give back”, hosting their own camp. These camps give the host an opportunity to create positive public relations for a community. These types of camps can be a great way to go out and have fun, but don’t expect a tremendous benefit in the recruiting process or learning new techniques.
Team Football Camps
There are two types of team camps. First, an entire team or large number of the team attends a College or University Camp where they compete as individual position players but participate in limited team exercises as well. Second, an entire team or unit (offense or defense) of a team travel to a camp together. These camps are usually reserved for teams adopting new offensive or defensive schemes which a college coaching staff or group of coaches is helping to implement. Select members of the offense and defense (skills positions) might also attend 7-on-7 Tournaments and camps.
Often coinciding with Sponsored Camps, these camps are usually divided into direct positions (Quarterbacks or kickers) or groupings of positions (Offensive/Defensive line & Linebackers, or Skills athletes). Bishop and Dullaghan’s hosts both lineman and skills camps around the country while Kohl’s and Pro Kicker are popular kicking camps. Sometimes position specific camps are invite-only. ESPN sponsors one of the most “Elite”; the illustrious Elite 11 camp invites the nation’s best quarterback talent each year to be tutored by some of the game’s past great players and coaches.
These can be great camps to learn new skills and if it is an elite camp, can provide excellent exposure to college programs. However, don’t assume every position camp will boost your recruiting. This is especially true if you are a quarterback or a kicker. Be sure to contact the coaches at the camps and ask them if athletes from their camps have gone on to play at the college level.
See where you stack up against current football players. Here are the heights and weights for college football players broken down by position.
It is your job to understand the NCAA Eligibility Requirements.
Author: David Frank