College football‘s highly competitive recruiting environment means NCAA coaches and programs do whatever it takes to lure those blue chip prospects to their university.
Dan Mullen and Nick Saban have pulled up to recruits’ high schools in helicopters. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh once slept over at one’s house, drove him to school the next day and edited his blog while sitting in on his English class. For that reason, it’s understandable why satellite camps have been such a touchy subject for some coaches.
At the University of Georgia, head coach Kirby Smart produces his own football camps throughout the summer to bring those high-profile recruits, as well as football players of all ages, in front of him.
If you’ve ever wanted to hit the gaps like NFL players Herschel Walker and Todd Gurley, haul in touchdown passes like A.J. Green or toss the pigskin in UGA facilities like Matthew Stafford used to for Georgia football, Kirby Smart’s football camp may be for you.
Coach Smart’s camp, as its website describes it, is a “non-contact camp formatted to simulate the exact practice routine of the Georgia Bulldogs.” Not only are campers taken through the same positional drills that develop essential football fundamentals that the current Bulldogs partake in, but they’re also led by UGA’s expert coaches.
And while some schools host similar camps where there’s little to zero chance of a head coach actually giving players tips and pointers, Smart is roaming the field with the kids that sign up.
Kirby Smart’s youth camps are open to children and athletes of all ages. Children as young as 8, middle schoolers, preparatory school students, rising 9th graders, high school students, junior college students and four-year college transfers are all welcomed. Examples of the different camps include a 7-on-7 camp, a specialty camp for kickers and punters and even a linemen camp to hone specific skills.
Most of Smart’s camps cost a few hundred dollars but includes a T-shirt, meals, a photo with UGA’s head coach and the chance to tour Sanford Stadium. They will also walk away with highlight videos. Participants can opt for the overnight camp and stay at one of the campus dorms to complete the true student athlete experience. Bulldawg Illustrated provided a pretty in-depth account of what your typical camp is like.
As DawgNation explains, some of these camps — like the ones geared toward younger kids — are less about recruiting and more about building a brand and generating interest in the program.
But others are opportunities for the Georgia coaching staff to get a firsthand look at potential commits that play in UGA’s backyard and throughout the South.
Smart’s camp isn’t all that different from the ones that take place in the SEC at schools like Alabama or Florida. UF hosts what’s called “Friday Night Lights” in The Swamp during the summer. In fact Saban’s Crimson Tide summer camps draw probably double the amount of kids that Smart does.
But between the hedges under the bright lights of UGA’s old stadium in Athens, you’ll find the visor-donning Smart as active as any coach there.
The Kirby Smart football camp is the perfect event for local football players hoping to get noticed or, for the younger athletes, a one-of-a-kind experience they’ll never forget.