It’s not hard for youth and high school football players to find camps to attend over the summer.
There are hundreds taking place across the country. However, none will offer the experience provided by Football University.
The three-day camp currently being held at Casady School is one of 33 regional camps hosted by FBU this summer, with participants ranging from 6th to 11th grade.
The first thing separating FBU from the rest: Not everyone can attend. The camp has a selection process, limiting its participants to the most elite players.
“We consider ourselves an advanced football camp,” said Joe Bouffard, who is the director of the Oklahoma City camp. “This is not a camp to just come and get autographs at. There’s no sleepover, there’s no swimming. It’s really focused on football. We run these kids from eight in the morning to six o’clock at night and they’re in the classroom, lecture hall, and on the field all day.”
Bouffard says the most common way a player can receive an invitation is by visiting footballuniversity.org and nominating themselves. The camp then has scouts and coaches to evaluate the nominations before deciding on an invitation.
Another possibility is FBU’s network of scouts from across the country giving out invites based on what they see at a game. Also, being invited to one camp allows a player to return in following years without going through the selection process.
The cost is $595, which averages out to about $35 per hour. Players must choose one position at the beginning of the camp and are then assigned to a position coach, who is typically responsible for an average of 16 players.
The staff at the Oklahoma City camp has a combined 200 years of coaching experience and includes former Atlanta Falcons defensive back Ray Buchanan, 13-year NFL defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, and four-time Pro Bowl receiver Wes Chandler.
“I don’t know what they get at the average summer camp, but here there is a lot of instruction and fine technique,” Cottrell said. “They spend time in the classroom and look at tape, so they can spend a lot of time with the coaches that played and/or coached in the NFL. I would say they probably get a lot more instruction here than some of your average camps.”
Cottrell, who is considered an innovator of the 3-4 defense, has seen high potential in several participants at the camp.
“I don’t know about the NFL, but quite a few of these guys are going to be playing in college,” Cottrell said. “Some of the kids in the 11th grade that I have, they’ve really got some good abilities here. I could see at least five of the guys I’ve had going on to play in college, and maybe a couple Division I but at least no worse than Division II schools.”
Football University is a part of All American Games, which annually hosts the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January for the nation’s top seniors. Out of the 100 Class of 2014 U.S. Army All-Americans, 33 came through Football University camps at one point in their career.
“We mirror our camp on a NFL training camp, so it’s like an OTA (organized team activity),” Bouffard said. “Meaning it is tons of drills, high intensity on the field, all the sessions are filmed, we bring them back in the classroom to sit with their NFL coach and review the film from practice for about half an hour.”
At the conclusion of the camp, each athlete and their family will sit down with their coach and get an honest evaluation of their performance.
The camp also works closely with several recruiting sites, helping market players to potential college destinations.