High School Players Learn from Many Michigan Football Coaches at The Best of the Best Football Camp

High School Players Learn from Many 
Michigan Football Coaches at The Best of 
the Best Football Camp

OKEMOS - High school football players, many Michigan college football coaches and many lessons to be learned, on and off the field.

The Best of the Best Football Camp took place at Okemos High School on Thursday, June 16.

Silently kneeling in a huddle, high school players listened intently and with their heads up as Michigan State University Strength and Conditioning coach Ken Mannie spoke of how to become a better athlete.

“With callused hands, bloody knuckles, and a fire in your heart. That’s how you get better,” Mannie said in his speech.

Mannie said that the purpose of his speech was to teach kids that they need to stop wasting time on things that don’t matter to them and start focusing on what will make them better people on and off the field.

"If you cross the city limits and the extra mile, now it's a lot tougher there, a lot more challenging, a lot more difficult, but that's also where the rewards are. That's where success is. That's where achievement is. You got to go fight for it. You got to go earn it,” Mannie said.

Coaches from several colleges, including Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University, Northwood University, Davenport University, Trine University, Alma College, Concordia University, Siena Heights University, Albion College, Hope College, Olivet College, and Elmhurst College, attended the camp.

Players broke off into position groups: quarterbacks, linebackers, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers and more.

In each group, a set of coaches determined drills and technique exercises that improved the high schoolers’ knowledge and training.

Competition between players was at an all-time high, with high school seniors trying to get noticed by coaches, with hopes of finding a future in football.

"This is a lot of competition out here. It's really, really humid, and this is a good environment to be around right now,” Okemos High School senior Dalis Williams said.

Athletic talent on the field wasn’t all coaches looked for, though.

Eastern Michigan University assistant coach and running back coach Jay Peterson gathered all attendees of the camp after initial drills and spoke three words.

“Discipline, attitude, effort. Those three things take no talent, no talent,” Peterson said.

Peterson said that there are more talented players “walking in the streets of Detroit and East Lansing” than there are on the field, but if someone doesn’t have those three things, they won’t make it to the next level.

"They were just kind of nervous and wanted to compete very very hard, but basically it's about learning techniques and learning some drills that can make them better,” Peterson said.

Central Michigan University defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Greg Colby also spoke to the group before further training.

“You have to have a goal to reach and a certain standard to reach. For example, if you're talking about finishing a play, how do you finish a play? If you don't know how to finish a play, then you're not going to make plays that you should make. You know, hustling to the very end of the play,” Colby said.

Colby’s main point?

Taking the advice to set a standard and applying to the classroom and their jobs.

“You know, if you do it right out here then chances are you'll do it right off the field too. I found that over the years those things do carry over whatever you do outside the playing field,” Colby said. “If you approach what you're doing outside of football like you do football, take that kind of attitude and carry it over, no matter what you're going to do, you have a chance to get what you want and be successful.”

Players and coaches proceeded to do one-on-one drills.

While still playing in each of their positions, they were able to form plays together, finding the opening to throw the ball, to catch it, or to defend it from being caught.

"You know, just a chance to get noticed. There's three Mid-American conference schools here, there's Division 3 schools, and again, if you love football, playing football at any level is great,” Peterson said.

At the end of the camp, an All-Star Camp Team was announced, including the following players from around the Meridian Township are: Okemos quarterback Dalis Williams, Okemos tight endPatrick Nugent, Okemos quarterback Dom Clerkley, Fowlerville defensive tackle Austin Cahoon, Everett cornerback DeShaun Lowery, and East Lansing defensive end Fazon Flanegin.

Big Rapids High School senior Avery Mongomroy said coming to the camp made him realize how hard he wants to work for his team and for himself outside of football.

"Dedication, attitude and heart. That's all that matters for this game,” Montgomroy said.

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