GRAND PRAIRIE — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh couldn’t talk to players about recruiting, but his message was coming in loud and clear.
A large turnout of more than 200 top players for a four-hour Tuesday night camp at Grand Prairie’s Gopher/Warrior Bowl showed the Summer Swarm impact was well received among potential Texas recruits even if Harbaugh and his M-clad assistants couldn’t use social media and gain contact info from players. Recruiting rules were the first topic addressed to players, but the camp action quickly resembled standard activities, with the exception that Grand Prairie’s campus 10-miles from downtown Dallas could have been Dearborn with all the maize and blue around.
South Grand Prairie’s star athlete Jeffrey Okudah, Wylie East running back Eno Benjamin, Sachse quarterback Jalen Mayden and DB Jared Mayden and WRDevin Duvernay were among standouts being offered by every Power 5 Conference.
Watching coachjim4um do work on these boys in the Texas heat. Lots of good talent out here bright… https://t.co/6CshrKyOpr
— Derek Holland (@Dutch_Oven45) June 9, 2015
Harbaugh was in Houston on Monday and the Summer Swarm has gained national exposure with a Big Ten rule different than the SEC, ACC and Big 12. Coaches are not permitted by the NCAA to work camps 50 miles outside of their campuses, but the Big Ten allows coaches to work in a guest capacity at camps.
Penn State coach James Franklin and staff worked camps with Georgia State and Stetson last year. Harbaugh and his assistants are on a nine-day, nine-city tour which started June 4 in Indianapolis and ends June 12 in Detroit. The one-day camps across the country include stops in Florida, Texas, California and Alabama. Michigan picked up a running back commit after the Indianapolis camp.
The NCAA likely will review rules but the definitions of camps and combines is particularly sensitive and troublesome to change. With equipment, protein supplements, sports drinks and a variety of other companies interested in footing the bill (so to speak) for camp “swag bags” and exposure, there will be other camp/combine variations crop up around any rule-changing. Baylor coach Art Briles was a trend-setter in having “satellite” camps around Texas rather than just on Baylor’s campus as had been the norm. Texas Tech had its spring practice in Midland/Abilene in an effort to have expanded branding and marketing.
When Arlington’s AT&T Stadium holds college football games, that’s a huge departure from old-shool thinking which would hesitate to give up any home football games because of revenue. Colleges are able to make up home revenue through increases in ticket prices for special venues.
As the Showtyme Camp in Grand Prairie and similar venues have been successful, so are national and regional basketball camps held during NCAA college evaluating periods which gain participation because of well-known and recognizable coaches who will attend.
Harbaugh and his coaches were able to give instruction. And his strong personality came through well as he shouted “It’s OK to finish first” as players ran to warmup before drills. It’s a mantra most college sports marketing departments have adopted.