Today's high school athletes get more exposure than ever before, not only from the media. When Tom Lemming (football) and Bob Gibbons (basketball), the pioneers of recruiting analysis, began evaluating players in 1978, there was no Internet, Rivals, Scout, ESPNU, UnderArmour or Edgytim.
Now kids can attend camps from coast to coast to improve their skills in any sport from lacrosse to soccer to volleyball. There are enough football and basketball camps to fill a telephone book, for quarterbacks and kickers, for tall men and point guards.
The problem is: Which is the best for me? Which one will teach me what I need to know? Which one can give me exposure necessary to obtain a college scholarship? Will I burn out if I attend too many camps? Will I get ripped off? If I'm a wide receiver and I'm timed in 4.8 seconds for 40 yards, how badly will that performance affect my college chances?
That is for the athlete, his parents and his coach to determine. Every major college hosts its own training camps to lure prospective athletes to its campus. And there are hundreds of other caps in all sports that are designed to improve an athlete's talent level and provide exposure to recruiters.
One of the latest is DeBartolo Sports University, an amateur sports organization founded by former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., who masterminded five Super Bowl championship teams with the 49ers and two Stanley Cup winners with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The DeBartolo organization is in Chicago on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (May 1-3) to sponsor the Chicago Football Festival at the Max McCook Indoor Athletic Facility in McCook. It will be a showcase for players of all positions who can be tested in as many as five events over the three-day period.
Among the highly rated athletes who are scheduled to participate are quarterbacks A.J. Derby of Iowa City, Iowa, Chandler Whitmer of Downers Grove South, Brandon Pechloff of Montini, Tyler Warden of Glenbard West, Eric Williamson of Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin and Mark Alt of Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minn.
The list of linemen includes Notre Dame-bound Christian Lombard of Fremd, Sandburg's Andrew Schofield and Crete-Monee's Matt Finnin. Seantrel Henderson, Alt's high school teammate and the top-rated player in the nation in the class of 2010, also might attend.
The coaching staff features several former NFL coaches and players--Bubby Brister, who quarterbacked two Super Bowl champions and played in the NFL for 15 years; Jim Hanifan, a legendary NFL offensive line coach for nearly 30 years; Brad Banks, 2002 Heisman Trophy runnerup; Jon Embree, a tight ends coach in college and the NFL for 20 years; Joe Dickinson, a former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and Northern Illinois who helped to develop Troy Aikman, Patrick Ramsey, Gus Frerotte, T.J. Rubley and J.P. Losman; and John Alt, a two-time Pro Bowl lineman who started 149 games in 13 years in the NFL.
The DeBartolo group, which also sponsors invitation-only Fab 50 camps across the country during the summer for athletes in the sixth through 12th grades, will return to Chicago on Aug. 1-2 for another event.
According to Josh Clark, DeBartolo's national scouting director, the Chicago Football Festival gives athletes the chance to come to one field and find out who truly are the region's top players. "It is their chance to shine and be recognized for all of the work and training they have endured," he said.
Participants can elect to have their recruiting information and results from their testing in the skills competition to be distributed to college coaches at all levels. Chicago-based National Collegiate Scouting Association will be on hand to answer questions and educate parents and athletes about the recruiting process.
For information, contact Clark at (626) 204-2440 or (319) 400-3440 or e-mail DeBartolosportsu.com.