"Today's goal was to start it off right and I think we did with the academic portion of the camp," said Te'o on Thursday. "We had a great turnout and great representation there. We had the University of Utah's academic people come out and educate our kids on the ACT and the Clearinghouse, so we got off to a great start."
Getting off to a great start is right. Wearing All-Poly Camp shirts, camp participants lined up for a new All-Poly Camp ritual to get the players' mindset and focus right.
"We started today's camp off with a haka and it was off the charts," said Te'o. "We're going to keep doing that every day, and by the time all these kids leave here, we're going to get it down. We had all these guys out there doing the haka and it was awesome!"
There's something different about this year's All-Poly Camp. Unlike in previous years when one position was represented more than any other, this year's camp is more balanced in terms of the quality and amount of players at every position.
"This is the most balanced year we've ever had," Te'o said. "Some years we only have two or three quarterbacks versus a higher percentage of wide receivers or other positions. This year we have a more balanced group all across the board at every position both offensively and defensively.
"We ended up with more than I anticipated, I'll be honest with you. I usually like to keep it between 200 and 275 kids, but this year we have over 350 kids here and that's a good thing too because we're able to help a lot of these kids get the instruction they need."
Some of the coaches represented at the All-Poly Camp's first day were Steve Kaufusi (BYU), Brandon Doman (BYU), Shaun Nua (BYU), Kalani Sitaki (Utah), Chad Kauha'aha'a (Utah), Ilaisa Tuiaki (Utah State), Justin Ena (SUU), Mike Fanoga (Wyoming) Eith Uperesa (Nicholls State), Micah Alba (Fresno State), Brian Cabral (Colorado) and many others.
"We've got guys from different conferences coming here from the Pac-10, Mountain West, the WAC and BYU," said Te'o. "These kids are getting a variety of looks. It just bodes well for these kids all the way around because it gives them a chance to showcase their talents while learning from these coaches."
The All-Poly Camp is a time in which many coaches reunite on the field for fun and catching up. It's a time in which all can come together with a common goal of trying to help the younger generation improve.
"The coaches that come out here have a passion and a love for the kids," Te'o said. "For these coaches, this isn't a grind to come out here, but fun for them. They bring a passion when they come out here because this is like a vacation for them.
"They enjoy being around one another and bring that joy to the field when they coach. All these Polynesian coaches out here are happy to be around one another. You know, you haven't seen your cousin for a long time and it's a chance to hang out and catch up."
From station to station, players were put through a series of drills suited for their specific positions. Under the tutelage of college coaches, players gained instruction and were taught the purpose behind each drill.
"We learned a lot of things in regards to our stance – how to be explosive out of our stance and things like that," said Lone Peak athlete Micah Hannemann. "We just learned a bunch of little things that help you."
"The experience and knowledge these coaches bring to the table, these kids are getting a great education in football," said Te'o. "You know, we've brought out some of the best coaches in the country, and so you can't beat this experience – I don't care where you go. We couldn't be more pleased with how productive and instructional the coaches have been for the players here."
"It's really nice and I've never had this many coaches teaching me stuff," Hannemann said. "It's really nice and I'm learning a lot here."
Separated into two fields, quarterbacks and receivers worked out in various stations. BYU offensive coordinator Brandon Doman worked with the quarterbacks and wide receivers with a keen eye. With his head on a swivel, nothing got past Coach Doman as he barked out corrective instructions to fix a hitch here or a throwing motion there while monitoring a group of about 20 quarterbacks.
"Our numbers are great this year with the number of athletes represented, and we have a great turnout with the quality and numbers of coaches we have to teach them," Te'o said. "I just look around and am amazed at all the activity that's going on at the same time. There's a lot of positive work going on and a lot of positive interaction and instruction going on between coaches and the players here."
A few early standout performers from Thursday
On Thursday the day's events were geared more towards drills and instruction rather than contact.
Nevertheless, a few early standout performers were:
LB Caleb Saulo- Kent Lakes HS, WA
LB Adam Ah Ching- Greer HS, SC
LB Trajan Pili- Centennial HS, NV
WR Micah Hannemann Lone Peak HS, UT
DL Moimoi- Timpview HS, UT
DL M. Folauhola- Riverton HS, UT
TE Brady Holt- Riverton HS, UT
QB D. Rice
More prospects will be evaluated over the next few days, and the type of talent present will be better gauged once the camp goes full-contact.
However, the amount of productivity, instruction and energy from Thursday's camp were both high and efficient. The All-Poly Camp got off to a great start, and Coach Alema Te'o couldn't be more pleased with the first day's overall experience.
"We're really pleased with how the Polynesian Coaches Association has been a big push behind the All-Poly Camp," said Te'o. "We couldn't be more pleased with the excitement, energy, happiness and overall atmosphere that's being generated out here on the field. Today was a good day and I couldn't be more pleased."