ANSBACH, Germany – Fall is more than three months away, but footballs filled the air anyway Saturday at a one-day quarterbacks and wide receivers camp at Ansbach High School.
“The focus is on passing,” camp organizer and director Marcus George said of the camp, which marked the first time the passing game will be separated from the annual four-day preseason skills camp that will be held here in August. “We’re giving kids skills and drills they can work on over the summer.”
Nearly one hundred players from eight schools attended the camp, held the day after the school year ended. Postponing summer vacation for a day, however, was a small-enough price to pay, according to camper Christian Gregorek, who’ll be a junior wide-receiver/cornerback for SHAPE this fall.
“It’s definitely useful,” Gregorek said as he prepared for the camp-ending seven-on-seven tournament. “I’d recommend it to any skill-position player.”
Like most DODDS-Europe players, Gregorek performs on offense and defense, and the defensive side of the game wasn’t neglected during the drills. Some of them involved one-on-one drills on vertical passing routes, in which players alternated between catching the ball and learning man-to-man coverage techniques.
The camp also covered short routes and quarterback plays - and even some line skills for the dozen or so linemen who attended.
“A lot of our linemen came out,” George said of his Cougar front men who comprised the bulk of the linemen in attendance, “just to get some exercise.”
Rising Wiesbaden sophomore quarterback Corey Crawford, who plans to attend the 400-500-player skills camp here in August, said he found the camp worthwhile, even though the techniques taught on drops and release were mostly review.
His teammate, sophomore-to-be tight end/wide receiver Rick Heiges, said he liked the cross-fertilization aspect of the camp, with instruction provided by coaches from throughout the system.
“Since we have different coaches, we learn different philosophies,” he said.
Most of the campers, as was the staff, were coming off three-sport school years, so conditioning wasn’t a problem. To Heiges, the adjustment was mental.
“It feels sort of odd right now,” he said as he sought shade from a bright sun, “getting into a football state of mind.”
Climax of the camp was a double-elimination, seven-on-seven tournament in which each team was given 10 total plays from the 40-yard line. The team that scored the most touchdowns in its 10 plays moved on.
Heidelberg’s “A” team won the event, outscoring Ansbach’s “A” unit two TDs to one on the 10th play of the game when junior Daniel White corralled a tipped ball at the right flag and fell into the end zone.
“I couldn’t have caught it without my teammate (Tim Cuthbert) keeping it alive,” White said of the Hail-Mary toss from junior quarterback Conor Mitchum. “It bounced off another guy’s helmet, and he tipped it up.”
Even though the seven-on-seven format resembled nothing more closely than backyard football – three receivers on each side of the quarterback with everyone eligible – Cuthbert said the event was a great way to put into practice things learned during the day.
“You have to use your mind,” he said, “and play as a team.”