I have convinced myself that today's prospect is as spoiled a bunch as I have seen – and that is really saying something. We've slowly gotten to this point, but we have arrived – prospects don't work out at camps any more.
Not if they are rising seniors (keep in mind that rising seniors still have ten months from now to be recruited and sign with schools).
I've covered the MVP Camp in Georgia from its start, and what's happened over time is that kids view their make-or-break time as the spring of their sophomore seasons. Anything after that? Apparently there is no need to work out.
It is a reverse from what I saw not that long ago in Rome when the MVP Camp was held at the Darlington School in 2010. David Andrews, a center prospect from the Wesleyan School, and Amarlo Herrera, a linebacker prospect from North Clayton, both drove about two hours from their homes to participate in the start-up camp.
No big deal right? They both needed more exposure – as they were both already committed to Georgia… considered a major SEC offer. Sarcasm often doesn't translate on paper, so let me be more clear.
Why did Andrews and Herrera go to Rome that day? Apparently it was to work as both of them drilled the entire day. But why? What did they have to gain by being there? (An aside – Watts Dantzler was there that day, too, but didn't work out).
That's the crux of the argument – that is the key that unlocks the door.
Let me lay the MVP Camp out for you.
It is blue collar. The T-shirts? They are not brand name and are made of cotton – so they rip easily and are pretty much useless by that afternoon. The location? Lovejoy – not Buford or Lassiter. If you win an award at the MVP Camp you get a trophy – not an all-expenses-paid trip to the West coast.
So, if you are a recruit who is already committed to a school why go? That's the wrong question, and that's the problem.
Why would you not go?
I've never met a high school prospect who is fully polished – never. I've never met a high school prospect who couldn't benefit from more time on the field. I've never met a high school prospect who didn't benefit from working with people outside of his high school to see something new.
How do I stack up against people outside of my region? What is it like to work with a lift-handed quarterback? I have my two moves, what is it like when I can't get around the offensive lineman in front of me because he's seen those two moves before?
If you are not working out you will never know the answer to that question.
The term prospect is probably very, very misunderstood – but it literally means "the possibility that something will happen in the future." Possibility seems left out a lot of late in recruiting because although everyone can do something doesn't mean they will. Certainly the only way it will happen is with great genes and years of difficult work – work that's not always very fun; work that involved the development of mental toughness… the ability to forget when you lost the play before and understanding that the only thing in sport that matters is what is happening on the field of play right now – and doing that over and over and over.
We've lost that.
Camp world has changed. High-level kids, committed or not, don't work at camps like they used to. Show up and hang out? Yes. Work? Apparently it is not necessary any more. Again, it's my/our fault. I write about recruiting (among other things). You read it. The kids know that and have settled into a routine. They understand that they are a hot item – even when they are not necessarily a "great" prospect.
So, because people like me write about kids (which is required to be successful at my job), the kids confuse the attention they get with them actually being good enough to skip camps and combines – or show up and not get onto the field.
I blame myself, but I am not alone.
It's not quite that simple, because we (the media) are not nearly as at fault as the schools who have entered a recruiting arms race at break-neck speed (recruiting is vastly worse than it once was). Schools, who have spent (on average) two and a half years recruiting a player, have to unrecruit the kids once they get on campus. Mark Richt's drawings, some school in the SEC West's bag full-o-cash (allegedly) and 262 recruiting letters on one day – that's all gone once you sign.
Then you actually have to get onto the field and do it, and no matter how great my article is about you all of the typing in the world isn't going to save you when Leonard Floyd slaps you upside the head.
By the way – the two guys I mentioned above – Andrews and Herrera… both are three-year starters at Georgia.