The Southwest Elite 7-on-7 games technically begin Friday, but players will begin competing Thursday night.
The Southwest Elite will feature an EA Sports NCAA Football '14 Launch Party the night before the 7-on-7 games begin at Lindsey Field at Champions Stadium. Shiloh Christian coach Josh Floyd said the idea was to make the Southwest Elite consist of more than the average 7-on-7 event.
"I think one thing, off the field, I think the kids really enjoy the experience they get to be part of the 7-on-7 the entire weekend. On Thursday night, we're going to be playing a Playstation tournament on the new college football game," Floyd said. "That game comes out this week on EA Sports, so we'll be one of the first groups to play that. That's off the field stuff, but I think that's memories kids will take for a long time and just off the field, getting to know players from other teams and guys that you read about.
"When we started this tournament a few years ago, that was something that was on my heart. We didn't want it to be about a couple of football games in the middle of the summer, we wanted it to be an entire experience and hopefully kids are getting that."
Another off-the-field event is the Influencers Rally, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center. Tim Tebow will be the special guest with music by Coffey Anderson, Manafest and FLAME.
On Saturday, there will be a Champions of Leadership Breakfast that will have a guest panel featuring Bill Simon, the president and CEO at Walmart, Brian Cornell, the CEO at PepsiCo America's Foods, Herm Edwards, a former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst, Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and Lt. General Leroy Sisco, founder of Military Warriors Support Foundation.
On the field, the Southwest Elite 7-on-7 Showcase will have 32 teams competing, including Arkansas commits Ty Storey, Rafe Peavey and Jack Kraus and prospect DeAndre Goolsby. Floyd said the showcase should bring heavy competition.
"I know Hoover is coming here and they've been state champions several times in Alabama," he said. "They have some really good players this year and Coach (Josh) Niblett does a great job with those guys down there. I definitely think Hoover will be a team to beat."
"Olive Branch, Mississippi is a team that is really good, too. They've got a really good quarterback and they actually won our tournament before. I think they're a really good team, too."
"And you have those two teams that have quarterbacks committed to Arkansas, so obviously, you can expect those guys to be pretty stinking good, so they should score a lot of points."
Shiloh Christian won the event in 2009, Olive Branch (MS) took home the title in 2010, Bentonville in 2011 and Fayetteville won it last year. The Bulldogs had three players, Austin Allen, Alex Brignoni and Brooks Ellis sign with Arkansas, but Floyd said he expects Fayetteville to be competitive again this year.
"Fayetteville obviously lost some really good players, including three guys who are going to play in the SEC, but we've never played Fayetteville in 7-on-7 where they haven't been good or pretty successful," Floyd said. "So I don't think they'll miss too much.
"Daryl does a great job at Fayetteville High and he always has those guys ready to roll. I think everybody may not know their names yet, but I guarantee you they have some really good football players."
Overall, Floyd said the competition should help better each team, including the Shiloh Christian Saints, as the regular season nears.
"I think it's a great experience for everybody," he said. "Competition is the biggest thing and I think the coaches all understand that that's one thing you can do in the summer. Try to make your guys compete hard and anytime the competition level is raised up, then I think kids respond. There are a lot of big name guys that are going to go on and play at the next level.
"I think it's great for all of the teams to have that kind of experience. Our kids have played over several of these events over the years and we can still look back and see the guys we played, like Julio Jones, who is now in the NFL. I still hear guys talk about him, so you never know when you have that type of talent, where they are going to end up one day. I think it's just a great experience for a lot of different teams to play against top-notch players.
"Moving forward into the season, hopefully it gives us some confidence. Even if we don't win every game or anything, if they can say they had a big play against one of the prospects or something, you just never know. With kids, a little confidence boost here or there might make for a huge difference for the season."
Floyd wants more than football at SW Elite
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