Utah State Aggies host prep athletes for summer football camp
Bill Quick, Deseret Digital Media
LOGAN — It’s June and high school football players all over the West are suiting up in pads and helmets for summer football camps. The gridiron is in full swing for high school student-athletes.
One of those camps was in Logan, hosted by the Utah State Aggies June 9-11, and it drew student-athletes from all over the Western U.S. and Canada. The camp was structured so high schools could bring partial or complete teams. One of the schools attending the camp was Kearns High School with 85 players and at the camp they were divided into JV and varsity squads.
Some teams brought more, others fewer players. The camp was also open to individual players.
Utah State football coach Matt Wells and his staff hosted 550 prep student-athletes at this year's football camp.
“It’s important the we provide quality coaching and instruction to these athletes and expose them to both at a high level," Wells said. "Most of these kids want to get recruited to a Utah college and even a Div. I school like Utah State. This camp gives them the opportunity.
“We have great team competition and some highly competitive individuals, so when you mix those together you can count on some fireworks. We remind the kids often that this isn’t the week of the state championship game, but a time work on your craft. We give these kids the opportunity to play the greatest team sport ever invented.”
When asked how important the camp is to Utah State’s recruiting effort, Wells explained, “To see how this camp has grown over the years and to see kids from all over the West and Northwest come to compete, it’s everything to us.”
The Aggies are hosting players representing schools from Utah; Idaho; Washington; California; Colorado; Alberta, Canada; and two full-team rosters from high schools in Nevada.
“We’ve been coming to Utah State for years," football coach Leon Evans of the Centennial Bulldogs in Las Vegas said. "They are a great host and the players get excellent instruction from the Aggies coaching staff.”
The Nevada schools included Shadow Ridge and Centennial, who happen to be big rivals back home.
The camp included individual offense and defense position coaching, along with team drills with specific focus on agility. All of the skills training were specifically aimed toward improving team scrimmages. Teams scrimmaged in a round-robin format with each team playing each other in six, 20-minute rapid-fire sessions.
High schools that had large groups of players from Utah included teams from Kearns, Corner Canyon and Juan Diego. Many high schools were represented by smaller groups of players including Bountiful, Alta, West, Viewmont, Woods Cross, Sky View and Highland High from Pocatello, Idaho.
Dozens of other high schools were represented at the camp by individual student-athletes from throughout the Western U.S.
The completion was hard-hitting and highly competitive. Coaches did their best to keep the intensity under control so players didn’t get hurt this early in the season. Contact was limited to above the waist with most players opting to wear shorts rather than traditional padded football pants. That didn’t keep the players from playing at full speed. There were plenty of hard hits, chest bumping, high-fives and the occasional trash-talking.
Juan Diego head coach John Colosimo brought 40 players to this year's camp: “The competition was surprisingly tough considering it’s so early in the summer," he said.
Colosimo noted that he expected outstanding play from standout center Andrew Markosian and offensive lineman Adam Murray. Colosimo said he expects to see great things from Drew Uno, who will anchor the Soaring Eagle receiving corp.
Corner Canyon has 20 returning starters from last year. Head coach Don Eck talked about two notable players that will play a big part this year.
“We’re going to be a senior-dominated team and especially the play from senior Branden Bowen and junior Keaton Bills, both who are offensive tackles, are expected to be top collegiate recruits," he said.
Other notable players include Greg Rogers, Centennial's 6-foot-5, 290-pound freshman defensive tackle. He has already received attention from colleges in the West. In addition, Evans mentioned transfer student Sameul Liaga from Alaska. Liaga will play free safety for the Bulldogs: “All of these guys should make their mark this season for us," Evans said.
Another standout at the camp included Britian Covey, who led Timpview to the 2013 Class 4A state title and was the 2013 Deseret News 4A MVP. Covey attended the camp with one noticeable twist. He didn’t come to the camp as a quarterback, but as a slot receiver. There’s no doubt though that he’ll be under center for coach Cary Whittingham and the Thunderbirds this upcoming season.
Other players who attended the camp and are a must-watch this fall include James Empey (OL, American Fork); Justin Miller (QB, Lone Peak); Bradley Quick (DT/OL, Bountiful); Tanner Hammond (QB, Woods Cross); Myles Tapusoa (DE, West); Joshua McMillin (TE, Herriman); Tyler Jones (WR, Shadow Ridge, Nevada), Tylle Jones (WR, West); Greg Gwinn (DB, Highland High, Idaho); Levani Dammai (WR/RB Mountain Crest); Tyler Downs (OL, Sky View); Austin Peterson (OL, Woods Cross); Bradon Swanson (OL/DT, Springville); and Rhett Ellingson (RB/LB, Raymond High, Raymond, Canada).
Stansbury head coach Clint Christiansen brought up 70 players split between JV and varsity.
“We’re focused on making sure we’ll right there in the end," Christiansen said. "Staying healthy is the key. I like our chances. This camp is key to our preparation.”
He added, “The Utah State staff treats us right. They love our kids and the coaching is excellent.”
Christiansen and the Stallions expect great things this year, especially from returning quarterback Gage Manzione and standouts Hudson Conrad and Zayne Anderson. Anderson has already committed to play for Utah State.
Bill Quick, an Idaho native, studied communications, history and business at the University of Utah. He is the Sr. Director of Marketplace Operations at Deseret Digital Media and Deseret Connect Contributor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org