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“Rule the Air” Quarterback, Receiver Camp A Huge Hit

Written by: on Sunday, March 30th, 2014. Follow Armand Vanore on Twitter.

 

Warminister, Pa., Athletes Creating Excellence (A.C.E.) held their first “Rule The Air” showcase camp at the spaceous indoor SMG Sportplex yesterday in Warminister. It was one of the most detailed, comprehensive camps I’ve seen which was attended by mostly District 1 and 12 quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs who participated by invitation.

Players were given a one hour chalkboard session to start the camp going over some of the finer details of what goals these young men should have for themselves as they go on through their high school careers. There was an intense question and answer period and the instructors were there to make sure that each player’s technique was going to be used to the best of their ability. The instructors goal was to make each player aware of exactly what college coaches look for in a potential player’s technique and to help them achieve that goal.

Instructor Rich Garcia (Garcia Sports Institute) then put the players through intense agility drills Rule the Airon the playing surface for the next half hour. I have talked to many college coaches during my coverage of the state championship games at Hershey and a number of them initially look for how an athlete can “flip his hips”. Garcia, who has worked with a number of professional athletes in the NFL, CFL and Arena football league, focused primarily on a wide range of hip opening exercises. He continually wanted each and every athlete to know the value of this concept. 

The groups were then split into two groups (Quarterbacks and WR’s/DB’s). Donovan Dooley (of Quarterback University and rated in the top 10 in the country for QB instruction) and Vernard (Abe) Abrams worked with the 13 throwers in attendance through a detailed, hour and a half session of footwork, agility and throwing motion techniques all done from standing still as well as an assortment of drop backs. On one particular drill they had all of them pretend that they were being scrutinized by three different cameras, one in the front, one from the back and one from the side while throwing from a still position. I saw at least half of these quarterbacks form and technique improve considerably after this session.

Abrams and Garcia worked extensively with the receivers and defensive backs. The goal here was to get each player to be “sudden” in his movements. Getting a player to be “fast in a hurry’ is something that many, many very skilled athletes lack. Various drills were aimed at this ranging from fast, to slow to fast route running to cutting at precise times during “dig routes” to arm extension at the very end of the pattern.

Having been to a few of these camps, I have noticed that there has always been more than one instructor talking at the same time which confuses the kids. This group (which consisted of at least eight instructors and assistants) was completely different where you seldom heard more than one voice at a time which I feel is very important during any teaching environment. If a player made a mistake during a drill an associate instructor would pull the kid to the side to explain, one on one what he should or should not have done.  Apparently, this group gets it and the overall instruction (for as intense as it was) appeared to be smooth and intense at the same time.

One big advantage of anything a person does for a living would be if that person enjoys what they do. One thing I got out of this camp is the fact that, for these instructors, this is truly a labor of love. This certainly was translated by the energy this group portrayed during the four hours of instruction.

The meat and potatoes of this camp ended at 12:00 noon and the dessert was the competition with QB’s throwing to receivers while being guarded by the defensive backs which lasted an hour. During all camps of this nature there hardly is ever a good connection between the quarterback and receiver because they are not used to throwing to them. This was no different but as the session wore on players were beginning to make plays or just barely miss them. Wesley White (Fels, Philly Pub league) was the smallest competitor out there but made play after play either breaking up a reception or making a catch with a DB draped over him.

Every player participated as if they belonged there and some of the older participants also helped some of the younger ones which can be attributed to the way the camp was run. There were two quarterbacks from Roman Catholic (Phil DiWilliams, who at 6’3 was the tallest of the group and throws a very catchable ball and Tre Smith who has a compact prototype throwing motion). Both worked together to help one another being that they are competing for the same position. Episcopal’s (Inter-Ac league) Ryan Whayland showed off a canon arm and size (6’2, 225) that will propel him to have a season as good if not better than his 2100 yard, 17TD performance of 2013.  Carlton Aiken of Paulsboro, NJ, (by way of Springfield-Montco) looked to be very fluid in his drills and could really spin it. He should be one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in all of New Jersey for the next two years.

Writing for EasternPaFootball.com, I have always looked for someone during a game I cover in the hopes that this player will catch onto someone’s radar if they are that good. For a number of reasons some of these kids do not get the fanfare and a college coach out there that would certainly take a flyer on a player if he knew more about him. Covering all of District 1 and 12, I know that there are some I missed. One of those players, I feel participated in yesterday’s workout.

Alex Gooden is a junior do everything player (QB, RB, DB, KR) for AAA, Octorara from the Chest-Mont conference. Immediately during drills I could see that this kid is a football player, by the way he handled the drills and could see that he most likely was a leader on the football field. As he was running the drills, I googled him and noticed that as a QB, he ran for 1,300 yard, 17 touchdowns along with a number of long runs and TD’s as a kick returner. He also has an impressive “you tube” video. He was not the fastest of the skill guys who participated but did every drill with the “suddenness” the instructors tried to convey. He appeared to play fast when he had to and displayed an uncanny knack of sensational hand, eye coordination. His hands were clearly the best of the receivers. During the DB competition, he did get burned a couple of times but came right back and made a great play as if the last bad play never happened. I had a chance to speak to him afterward.

“My parents actually told me about this camp and thought I should give it a try. One thing that I wanted to work on while I was here was my agility and I just love to compete. I was 1st team all Chest-Mont which I am proud of and I want to be even better this year”.  Gooden primarily played QB for the Braves but his true position on the offensive side of the ball is as a tailback in the I formation. ” I am a team player and will play wherever coach wants me,” echoed Gooden prior to exiting.

University of Penn, Yale and Lehigh have so far shown interest Gooden so he has the smarts to go with his ability. I will certainly make the trek out to Octorara this year for one of his games. I see him as either a safety, running back or possession receiver at the next level.

Overall, this camp gets an A plus from my perspective. “We want to make sure that each kid that comes to our camp gets the knowledge of what college coaches look for,” said Abrams. “That is our goal and we, as a group will always help them with anything they need from us even after camp.”

Dooley has trained the likes of Heisman candidate Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois and Abrams has worked with Matt Johns of Virginia, Joe Walker of Delaware, Will Fuller of Notre Dame and DB Dave Pulliam of Eastern Michigan, Ray Lenhart from Neumann Goretti and many of the top QB’s and WR’s in the area. He has QB sessions at SMG all the way to fall camp.

Anyone can access A.C.E. at www.ace-training.co or contact Abe dircetly for instruction at info@ace-training.co.

 

 

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