As he looked around at the joyous faces of the youngsters at Arkansas' Junior High day camp on Wednesday morning, Razorback defensive line coach Rory Segrest was reminded of why he got into coaching football.
"When you combine this with the little kids camp last week where we had kindergartners through the fourth grade, you just see the excitement on their faces and how much they just enjoy the sport of football," Segrest said. "It reminds you why you got into this business - how much you love the true sport and helping kids grow to love it as well."
Segrest, a former Philadelphia Eagles assistant who was hired this winter, also knows the first experience of camp as a youth might help the program down the line when that youngster grows up and turns into a prospect.
"Anytime you can get them on campus – no matter what the age – you give yourself a chance to show them what we do here and show them a good time," Segrest said. "If we show them just how much we as coaches enjoy football, it can make a lasting impression on them and you hope they leave here with favorable thoughts."
Arkansas is in the middle of six camps, including Thursday's Elite Camp. That will feature some prospects already committed to the Razorbacks and some that they would like to add to the list.
There's also the Specialists Camp on Saturday, a three-day High School Camp beginning on Sunday and another Elite Camp a week from Thursday.
"It's real big to get some guys in front of you," Segrest said. "You get the chance to see them live and in person. You can evaluate them on tape, but it helps to actually get a feel for a guy – how does he respond to coaching, what type of work ethic that he has, just things you can see at a camp that you can't see on film.
"It is just so valuable getting them out here and being able to work with them one-on-one," Segrest said.
Segrest and the other coaches have been able – under new NCAA guidelines – to be around the current Razorbacks this summer unlike previous ones.
That's especially important with the newcomers. Segrest can talk to his two rookie defensive tackles, El Dorado's Bijhon Jackson and St. Louis' Armon Watts.
"It is going great," Segrest said. "We just talk about the basics, especially with the freshman who haven't been here. We are able to give them a general overview of this is what we do, this is what we anticipate and being able to work them into some of the drills with just the basics.
"It definitely gives you a jump start going into the season," Segrest added. "I think it is going to be a big plus for us."
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