“It’s where football starts, in the trenches. It’s for the guys that do the dirty work,” said Mike Devoe, director of the Elite Lineman Camp held this year at Alta High School in Sandy, Utah.
Now in its third year, the camp is hosted by two elite NFL linemen. Offensive lineman Ed Mulitalo of the 2000 Super Bowl champions and 2013 defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. The primary sponsor of the camp is the Haloti Ngata Family Foundation. Both own Super Bowl rings with the Baltimore Ravens.
Not only do Ngata and Mulitalo coach at the camp, but they bring a bunch of their friends to help out as well. Some of the camp coaches include Paul Kruger (2013 Super Bowl champion with the Baltimore Ravens, now with the Cleveland Browns); Steve Fafita (defensive line coach at Idaho State University); Sione Fua (defensive tackle with the Carolina Panthers); Sione Po’uha (defensive tackle for 13 seasons with the New York Jets); Lauvale Sape (assistant coach at Alta High School and former player with the Buffalo Bills); and Utah’s own Ron McBride.
About the camp and kids, Ngata said, “These kids are elite linemen. We wanted to help them with the right tools to reach the next level. We teach them that the key is solid self-esteem, confidence and finishing on the field and in life.”
While it’s a free camp for the players, it does have two big requirements. First, it’s for linemen only. No quarterbacks or receivers are allowed. And second, you have to be invited to attend the camp. Devoe said the staff reaches out to high school programs throughout the state and region and asks coaches to send their best linemen. Typically these are players entering their senior season or have significant playing time at the varsity level, so the best of the best show up.
Mulitalo said, “Our focus is on the linemen so they can measure themselves against many of the best in the state.” He also emphasized academics. Mulitalo told the kids to “keep working hard in school and on the field, understand what it takes to achieve your goals and the hard work will pay off.”
The camp focused not just on the fundamentals of offensive and defensive line drills, but on the lineman skills it takes to become an elite lineman in high school and college.
The temperature was close to 100 degrees on the turf at the Hawks Stadium Wednesday afternoon, and the linemen finished every drill with guts and no glory.
The camp director, Devoe summed it up by saying, “Follow your dreams, don’t quit because someone tells you you can’t do it. Prove them wrong.”
Sponsors for the camp included Under Armor, The Utah National Guard, Ken Garff Automotive, Coke and Alta High School.