You can attend all the 7-on-7 tournament you would like, but the three day padded experience that South Florida teams are receiving at FAU this weekend is something that will go a long way during the 2011 season.
With area programs such as Cooper City, Miami Ferguson, Hallandale and Miami Belen Jesuit joining American Heritage Delray, Fort Myers Bishop Verot, Port St. Lucie Centennial, Naples Gulf Coast, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Moore Haven, South Fort Myers, Boca Raton Spanish River, Wellington and Clewiston, the event was one that exposed the talent all players had.
“No hiding out here,” said Hallandale head coach Dameon Jones. “This is a live scrimmage that we could never copy at home. I have to say that this is indeed a premier event.”
FAU’s padded camp has become one of the must things to do when starting off the summer. There are very few camps like this anywhere, having been on the circuit for years.
“We just got back from Boston College and their team camp, so this is yet another thing that will get us all ready for the tough season head,” said Belen Jesuit head coach Rich Stuart. “We were here last year and the kids got so much out of it.”
The talent was also on display as many teams opted away from the 7-on-7 routine to actually work on things that will help them this fall.
Hallandale High’s defense, which will be rated No. 1 in Florida by Florida Football Magazine, was impressive as Florida bound Willie Bailey, Dashad Tucker and Darnell Brown shut down the competition all day.
“This is football,” said Bailey. “When you attend a 7-on-7, you are never as mentally prepared as being in full pads. This is one of the best things I’ve ever been to.”
Even Hallandale rising senior lineman Sherard Johnson had the opportunity to throw his gigantic 6-7, 330-pound frame around the field.
That sentiment is something that followed all the players around during the first day of heated competition with FAU coaches monitoring the action during a day where the temperatures reach the high 90s.
Players such as Belen running back Imani Davis, safety Frankie Hernandez, Jr., and defensive end/outside linebacker Alfonso Horner had the opportunity to mix it up with some of the top prospects around.
“This was great last year,” said Davis, who started since his sophomore year. “So, we kind of figured that it would be good again.”
First time area teams Cooper City and Ferguson also tested the waters for the first time.
Art Taylor, who guided his Cooper City Cowboys to a first ever district title last year, brought his team and the veteran coach wads all smiles, watching his players mix it up with state-rated competition such as Delray American Heritage who has the top 2013 running back in Florida in Greg Bryant, top-flight tight end Blake Davis and much more.
“This is something that gets me prepared on both sides of the ball,” said Cooper City rising senior receiver/running back/defensive back Camden Krohn. “The experience of getting to hit and being hit gives you something different this time of year.”
The camp is indeed one that put every player who attended through some rigorous physical conditioning. Ferguson top-flight running back Steven Braddy was also showcasing his skills, and although a little hobbled, he enjoy the experience.
“This is like having four or five additional spring practices,” Braddy smiled. “We have a real young team and this gets us ready for the summer, which is great.”
Fifteen schools with one objective - getting better by playing football and not just with shorts and a T-shirt on. FAU sets standards once again!