Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
LAYTON — College football coaches — representing programs from the junior college ranks to teams in the BCS — have descended on Davis County this week for the annual All Poly Camp. They’re here to lend a hand in putting approximately 400 future prospects through three days of instruction centering around “attitude, academics and athletics.”
Interest has grown over the 14 years since the camp was established. Coaches from Benedict (S.C.), Boise State, BYU, California, Hawaii, Indiana State, Lewis and Clark, Mesa Community College, Montana, Mount San Antonio (Calif.), Nevada, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Snow College, South Florida, Southern Utah, Stanford, UNLV, Utah, Utah State, Washington, Weber State and Wisconsin are among those participating this time around.
“We’re really excited that they’ve taken interest in the kids that we have coming in,” said Alema Te’o, camp founder and director.
The coaches, he added, appreciate the competitive edge and the high level of play. Besides showcasing Utah talent, the camp draws outside players as well. This year’s camp includes hopefuls from as far away as American Samoa and Florida.
Te’o said that they come here to get looked at by multiple institutions in hope of securing opportunities at all levels.
“Our main focal point is to promote higher education through football,” he said.
It’s all about exposure — and lots of it.
Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake likes how the most important aspect of the camp is getting the football players educated about academics. He appreciates that time on the first day is dedicated to bringing everyone up to speed on the NCAA clearinghouse. Sitake said many high school student-athletes don’t really understand how it works and what needs to be done to be eligible academically.
The All Poly Camp, which is open to all players, also includes guest lectures by community leaders and successful players. Thursday’s opening session featured remarks by former NFL lineman Edwin Mulitalo, who won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001.
“It’s for everybody and it’s benefitted a lot of people,” said Sitake, who acknowledged that a lot of college coaches have bought into it because it is something good — as is the talent pool. The latter, though, is secondary to the main mission.
“The most important thing is it’s just a way for everyone to give back and just try to work for something that’s positive for these young men to go through,” Sitake explained. “Anything that has to do with young men getting opportunities, especially with education, I’m all for. There are a lot of great coaches that are going to be here that are in the same boat.”
BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who has been with the camp since it was started, considers it a labor of love and a means to expose kids to opportunities.
“I don’t really look at this as an evaluation tool for recruiting. I don’t. Because I think if you do that you’re here for the wrong reason as a coach,” Anae said. “You lay it on the line because that’s what you do and you love what you do. It’s not work. If there’s an evaluation/recruiting element, that’s not the purpose.
“The purpose is to expose these kids to quality coaching, give them something to shoot for — what they’re looking for to become men,” he continued. “Football is the byproduct.”
BYU defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi had similar thoughts.
“The reason I’m here is I want to give back and do a good deed,” he said. “I’ve played the game and I’ve coached, so why not come and help some young kids and help teach them.”