NORMAN — Jay Norvell excitedly moved from group to group Tuesday morning with a pen and a piece of paper, keeping an eye out for any youngsters showing exceptional effort.
“We give out hustle awards every day,” Norvell said. “It’s amazing how a wrist band, or a sticker, or a ball cap for hustling changes a kid’s attitude about playing hard.
“The next day, they’ll be climbing all over each other to try to get a wrist band or a T-shirt.”
The fourth annual Jay Norvell Football Camp concludes Wednesday at Whittier Middle School, wrapping up what the Sooners’ co-offensive coordinator calls one of his favorite events of each year. And to think four years ago, Norvell wasn’t sure he’d have time for it.
Jason Olsen, who works for the City of Norman’s Parks and Recreation department, approached Norvell about taking over after the camp’s previous host, former OU assistant Chris Wilson, left Norman for Mississippi State.
“We’re just so busy in the spring and summer with recruiting, I didn’t know if I could do it,” Norvell said. “But it’s really one of the funnest things I do all year. I still like to run around and laugh, and jump around with the guys. It’s still a game to me.”
The close to 80 campers, ranging from ages 8 to 14, don’t wear pads. Instead, they focus on things like proper running form, backpedaling and catching. Much of the camp is also spent playing organized touch football games and battling in tug-of-war competitions.
“I love to see the tug of war, because it’s very rare kids this young have to strain that hard to do something,” Norvell said. “It’s like they’re surprised that when they pull it, nothing’s moving. They have to keep pulling and keep pulling. That’s a great learning situation that we teach them in camp.”