Following an NCAA rule change, student-athletes were permitted to participate in university-affiliated camps for the first time this summer. When asked what the biggest contribution the player coaches were responsible for at their youth football camp on June 22, starting quarterback P.J. Walker made it plain and simple.
“We call it the juice, we bring the energy to the camp. We’ve got guys jumping around like it’s an intense scrimmage. We had guys talking trash at lunch and had a great one-on-one drill because of it,” Walker said.
With a turnout of roughly 200 kids, the camp presented a bevy of players, from 11 year-old Bryant Rhule to heavily recruited upperclassmen.
With camps being held on the same day by numerous local schools including the University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University and Penn State, getting quantity as well as quality can be a competition.
“There are a lot of one-day camps now, you have to really have a good camp the kids want to come to,” Head Coach Matt Rhule said.
The competition among the players was much greater than the fight for attendance however, most notably when the camp converged into one-on-one drills.
With a dozen player coaches giving pointers and loudly cheering on their respective positions, wide receivers ran routes against defensive backs, as the camp’s quarterbacks alongside Walker tried to find the openings.
The effort in the drill was attributed to the intensity of the player coaches by linebacker Tyler Matakevich.
“We just brought the energy, we tried to get on the guys a little bit,” Matakevich said. “Everyone is here trying to showcase their talent.”
Cornerback Anthony Robey, who attended a Temple football camp during his high school years, got to attend this camp as a redshirt senior player alongside a few of his hometown coaches.
“It was one of the most memorable, fun camps I had been to at the time.” Robey said, “it was really something to be here with some of my old coaches. It’s a nice feeling seeing them come back and acknowledging you. Now, just as they tried to help me get better in high school, I’m trying to help these kids get better as well.”
E.J. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ejsmitty17