The last few weeks, the Oregon State coaches have been coaching at satellite football camps in California, Texas and Utah. They are also working on some of their own single day camps and mini camps. This is a relatively new tactic for the Beavers and, in my opinion, is the best advancement in recruiting they have embarked on.
There are three basic reasons that this is better than watching film, talking with high school coaches or scouting games.
1. First hand contact with player in a practice-like environment:
Being at a camp with a player gives the coaches a far better assessment of their talent level and skill set. While some players are gamers, being able to evaluate physical talent first hand in a series of drills can help you get a better understanding of what a potential recruit is capable of. There is no guarantee that the coaching each player is getting is even competent, so what you see on film might reflect more of a failure in a system than a failure of a player. The same goes for players that excel. Do they excel because they are well coached and have a lot of talent around them or do they excel because they are a great player. Watching them run through drills and work with you in a practice type environment gives you a better idea of what the player is really like
2. Coaches can see how coach-able a player is:
There are great players out there that never reach their full potential because they either don’t try or don’t listen or just cannot translate the message the coaches are giving them to the field. Some players are super talented but timid. Being able to see how a player approaches drills and how they use the techniques you are teaching gives you a great understanding of what they will be like on your squad. You can see their attitudes and how often players work to go against the best opponents they can or how many times they take drills off. Finally, you can evaluate if you even like them. Not every player will fit your culture no matter how great they are.
3. Players can evaluate coaches:
For many players, the recruiting circuit is a beauty pageant. Players come in and get the best a school has to offer. They have you come when the weather is nice, when girls are going to be around, when they are playing a game or whatever it is that they feel separates them from other teams. Working at a camp allows players to decide if A) your staff is even competent and B) if they can see themselves playing for you. More important than facilities and uniforms is fit. Many players can get blinded by the show and glitz, but some of the really good players will take note if they go to your camp and realize they are going to get great coaching. For many blue chip players out there the goal is to win and go to the NFL. If a staff can put their best foot forward and show that they have the chops and personnel to get you into the NFL at the highest draft position possible, they are going to take more notice of you. Everyone seems like a great coach in a film room or in a living room. The chance to see them prove it on the field is far more powerful.
OSU may not get any 5 star prospects from this camp tour, but they have already found some very high quality players that they now have an inside track on. And if the attendance at their half day camp means anything, with players making the trip to Corvallis from Florida and Iowa, their message is getting out and it is a positive one.