Pre-Camp Chapel Hill: Absolutely unimpressed with Blue Heaven. First of all, where do they park 25,000 cars on Gameday? In Durham? There were maybe 500 people attending the camp, including the campers, and parking was not that easy to find. It made me wonder how they tailgate over there. What a joke!
We arrived a few minutes early and walked down the steps and onto the walkway that surrounds the track. The stadium itself is nice, but other than that, I'm not getting it at this point. When we went to register, we were able to walk through the downstairs of the center that Mac built. We saw the weight room and a few other so called amenities. It was ok I guess, but from all things I have seen from Goal Line Drive, UNC-CH will need to do some major remodeling to keep up with the Jones' in Raleigh.
Event Staff: The Nike Coaches at the camp are probably some of the best in the business. You could see their experience just by the way they directed and coached the kids. I am sure through the years they have had to fine-tune their drills to account for what we saw Saturday. Every step, bounce and move was highly orchestrated. It is no wonder they are paid top dollars to work the camps.
The 2002 Shrine Bowl coaches were also there scouting the players from North Carolina. They have been meeting since January, looking at video tapes and over the rising seniors that will play in Rock Hill in December. Shrine Bowl officials have moved the date this year so there will not be a conflict with North Carolina's State Championship week-end.
Players: These were absolutely some of the best players gathered on the field from some 14 States. You cannot compare them to regular high school talent, as all these players were special athletes who have played their way for a chance to be invited. It was really hard to differentiate between the top and the bottom. The unanimous MVP of the NC Nike Camp was receiver Michael Mason, but don't trust the judgement of the staff on the choice. While Mason was certainly a standout, no way should it of been unanimous. Some of the coaches never worked with him. Remember, this was a Nike Camp, at Chapel Hill and Mason is an early commit to Coach Bunting. I am not sure he was even the best wide receiver at the camp. The talent level was so high, it would be a hard choice to make. What he had in speed, others had in size and strength at the receiver position.
Drills: My favorite drill of the day was at the lineman station. DEs against OLs, and a chance to sack a dummy QB. The competition heated up more than once as it was hard to hold the big guys back. The volunteer coaches at that station loved Justin Gary (OL/DE 6-3/260) from Floyd E. Kellam High School in Virginia Beach. He was a beast and stood out amongst all the lineman at the camp.
Quarterbacks: Brad Roach (QB 6'6" 215) of Williamston High School, Williamston, NC had a super camp. His father told me that he is in the middle of baseball (The Tigers are ranked #1 in the state), and that he did not have much time to prepare. In spite of this he stood out as one of the camp's best. He has the frame, ability, and is quick enough (4.8-40) to play D-1. According to his Coach, look for Tennessee to be a major player in the recruiting battles.
Post Camp Chapel Hill: When the camp was dismissed, we were invited to go back to the "Mac Center" for a post camp lunch with some of the coaches. Of course I jumped right at the chance for The Strutting Wolf to partake in such an affair on top of Kenan Stadium. On the way in, we were given the Ten Cent tour and were able to go into the Carolina recruiting room of dreams. I'm not sure what the name was, but for sure Woody Durham was babbling on the big screen about Lawrence Taylor, Carl Torbush, and others. I stood there amongst all the fanfare in my NC State windbreaker and my Struttingwolf.com polo. It was really cool that TSW had taken over the Carolina LaLa room with our presence, even if it was only a brief conquest.