Starting Friday, the Purdue football team will host a week of camps for high school students and kids in second to eighth grade.
The football camps will feature an offensive and defensive line camp, a quarterback camp and two developmental camps.
Jafar Williams, the camp coordinator and running backs coach, said the camps give prospective players a chance to see Purdue and allow the program to build a relationship with the community.
“(It) also gives (the community) an opportunity to learn a little about football (and learn) some of the fundamentals of football,” Williams said. “And we’re also talking about safety, the right way to do things (and) the right way to tackle, so I think it’s good they get some basic knowledge from our coaches.”
This year the camp will feature a seven on seven tournament for the first time after coach Darrell Hazell came up with idea to have one. This tournament will feature high school varsity teams that will compete against each other in a no-tackle competition. These tournaments have become very popular recently because many high school athletes use them to get noticed by different college programs. Many colleges across the country have adopted this tournament as part of their summer football camp programs.
“I think the thing that made sense for us, is our recent past with the ‘Cradle of Quarterbacks,’ Williams said. “I think it’s a little bit easier for us to attract some people in that manner, just to get them here to campus.”
Hazell agreed with Williams that the camps get players on campus, but also added that Purdue is not a place people just happen to come to.
“Someone said something to me the other day that I thought was pretty profound,” Hazell said. “This is a place you have to be coming to, to be here. It’s not a place you just kind of bump into ... so we had to do a good job of advertising what our product is and getting people here on campus.”
Part of Hazell’s plan for recruiting is to find more players from Indiana. Williams said the program has done a lot of advertising around the community to attract players and coaches to the camp.
“The thing we did when we were on the road recruiting, is making sure we had brochures and things like that to give to the high school coaches,” Williams said.
The national recent trend in recruiting has been to start to recruit players at a younger age, sometimes before they even get to high school. However, Williams said the coaches don’t like to get too far ahead in recruiting players who still have several years left of high school.
“Usually (recruiting a player) is based on a coach’s preference,” Williams said. “We don’t get too far ahead of ourselves, maybe a class or so.”
Williams’ hope is that camp will help players develop their skills and show them the football facilities Purdue has to offer.
“I hope they learn a little bit from the coaches and are able to take some of those techniques that we’ve taught them ... back and make themselves better for their upcoming season,” Williams said.