Southern Utah high school football players had a chance to increase their college recruiting value when the Nike SPARQ Football Camp came to Snow Canyon High School Friday evening.
Nike SPARQ, which evaluates high school football athletes across the country and sends scouting reports to college coaches who use the service, visited SCHS for a one-night event, and the camp directors liked what they saw.
“Somebody needs to bring these kids to the forefront,” said Alema Te’o, Nike SPARQ director in Utah. “I asked two Pac-12 coaches — one’s from Stanford, and the other one’s from Oregon State — ‘How come you guys don’t go (to Southern Utah)?’ They said they haven’t had any reason to come out here. So that confirmed to me that people don’t know about (the Southern Utah athletes).”
Te’o said Nike SPARQ evaluates football talent better than other camps, and when he and the other SPARQ directors put their stamp on high school athletes, the college coaches listen and take those athletes seriously.
“Those college coaches know we don’t sell them lemons,” Te’o said. “There’s a lot of good college prospects out here that are going to open some eyes. There’s an opportunity for a lot of kids to get looked at and get recruited.”
He said due to the network of coaches with whom he associates, there’s a real possibility of seeing Southern Utah football players finally get a chance to shine at the next level.
“We are the bridge to a lot of coaches,” Te’o said. “We have over 200 coaches in our network from the Pac-12 to the Southeastern Conference.”
Former University of Utah head coach Ron McBride was at Friday’s camp, and he said he enjoyed watching the players and sees a lot of potential. However, he made note of things he wants to see the players improve on, if they want to play at the next level. His specific critiques were pointed at the area’s linebackers and linemen.
“Linebackers have to have great eyes,” McBride said. “At the snap of the ball, you need to make your key read, and you need to be gone.”
For the offensive and defensive linemen, McBride said they need better hands. He said he saw linemen with sloppy hands and that’s the difference between good linemen and great linemen. He said football has become such a finesse game today that linemen forgot how to use their hands and just use their big bodies to get in the way. If high school linemen can learn how to use their hands properly, they’ll be great college linemen.
“The fundamentals of the game are what’s important,” McBride said. “You develop fundamentals at a young age, and it all becomes natural. If you have bad fundamentals, it just carries over.”
Te’o said he hopes the Southern Utah athletes make a big splash with their talents because he wants to bring SPARQ to the area every year, giving future generations of football players the same chance.
“Southern Utah is an untapped area,” he said. “It’s a matter of time. Hopefully we put together a good list. Some of these juniors and seniors, they look pretty good. In the end, it’s up to (the coaches), but at least they’ve got their information.”