CJ Turner likes to camp in the kind of places where you find more footballs than marshmallows.
Turner is a rising junior receiver and running back at East Irondequoit Eastridge. By his count, he has caught passes, ran and jumped at six different camps this calendar year from the state of Florida to Detroit, Mich.
Hundreds of other high school football players could be found at those locations, along with college coaches, the people all of those kids hoped to impress.
“It’s the best thing you can do,” said the 5-foot-7, 165-pound Turner. “Colleges are not going to come to see you.
“You have to go see them and show them what you can do. I started to do it my freshman year.”
Turner received his first offer to play college football on an athletic scholarship around mid-June, from Old Dominion University in Virginia Beach.
“He basically was a top-20 camper everywhere,” said Kala Gause, president of Beyond Athletics Scouting. “It’s more about his preparation. He understood physically what type of preparation he needed.
“He sacrificed a lot of things, that a lot of kids could not. I’m not surprised. If you have a goal, it’s just not going to fall into your lap.”
Aquinas rising senior Taylor Riggins, a defensive lineman for the Little Irish, accepted the offer of a scholarship he received from Syracuse University last month. Orange coaches had a chance to watch the 6-2, 215-pound projected linebacker in action at a camp on the school’s campus.
“I’m very excited,” Riggins said. “I get a chance to play Division I football and it’s close to home.”
The commitment by Orange coaches and Riggins is verbal and non-binding. Formal acceptance comes when a letter of intent is signed during a signing period for high school players that opens Feb. 3.
Earnest Edwards, a teammate and classmate of Riggins, has at least one more stop on his list of camps, Old Dominion later this month. He also went to camps at Connecticut, Syracuse and State University of New York at Buffalo, which offered him a scholarship to play cornerback.
“They came to a track meet at Aquinas to see me run and jump,” Edwards said.
Edwards said at most of the camps, players are timed in the 40-yard dash, measured in the broad and vertical jumps, observed performing individual drills and during one-on-one competitions, such as a pass route.
“These kids now have more opportunities than what we had growing up, even when it comes down to which camps your families can have you go to,” Gause said.
Turner estimated that he has attended 15 camps.
“Most of the time, I get to talk to the receivers coach or even the offensive coordinator,” Turner said. ‘If they like what they see, they say to stay in touch.
“Everyone is there for the same thing, show what you can do. The most important thing is to give 110 percent. Effort will get you noticed.”