BURTONSVILLE, Md. — The University of Maryland football team sent a not-too-subtle reminder this is its territory by parking a Terrapins team bus Friday at the Sound Mind, Sound Body East Coach Regional Football Academy at Paint Branch High School in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.
“We brought the whole staff, the whole office,” Maryland coach DJ Durkin said. “We may have brought 30 people. I don’t know.”
The Sound Mind, Sound Body Academy is not a satellite camp. The six-city series stresses more off-the-field instruction for players and their parents than most camps and has been around since 2004, long before big-time programs began getting attention for bringing their staffs on the road for camps. But some of the same elements of satellite camps were here, with college coaches from Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse, Bowie State and Morgan State offering instruction on the last weekend before a dead period that will prohibit coaches from any in-person contact with recruits. The dead period begins Monday and goes through July 10; the rest of July is a quiet period, which prevents off-campus in-person contact.
With all the controversy surround satellite camps this spring, with the NCAA first banning them, then rescinding the ban in April, Durkin said he feels they’re here to stay, though maybe in a different form.
“There will be some rule that puts a limitation on them, but they’re definitely here to stay,” Durkin said. “They’re not going to just get rid of them, I don’t think.”
Ceaser Nettles, the director of the two-day Academy at Paint Branch, said the rise of satellite camps doesn’t hurt the Sound Mind, Sound Body business model, which includes a day and a half of instruction before players take the field.
“One of the reasons we’ve been so successful is we take a holistic approach to teaching the student-athlete the life beyond the field,” Nettles said. “The six camps that we had this year all had good showings. By coming to a camp like ours, you get to learn about the recruitment process, the academic part to maintain a scholarship and what else you need to do to keep that scholarship.”
For many of the recruits, there’s plenty of room for satellite camps and other camps.
Jordan Agudosi, a rising junior defensive end from Immaculata (Somerville, N.J.) has had interest, but no offers yet from Rutgers, Maryland, Temple and some smaller schools. This is the third camp he’s attended since school let out for summer, including the Tri-State Elite camp at Rutgers and a Michigan satellite camp at the Hun School in Princeton, N.J.
“I’m here to get noticed and show the DMV (the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia area) how powerful New Jersey football is,” Agudosi said. “The best thing about a camp like this is there are a lot of coaches. The worst thing is there are a lot of players.”
Detrick Washington Sr., the father of DeMatha (Hyattsville) rising junior running back Detrick Washington Jr., said the Sound Mind, Sound Body Academy does a good job of reinforcing what parents are trying to get through to their sons already.
“What’s different about this camp is the information that you get,” Washington said. “Being able to know the process of applying for a college. How to narrow down what college you should go to, based on their need and looking at their depth chart. The main thing I heard that I liked was a coach that said, ‘You go to a school that likes you, not a school that you like.’ ”
Brandon Huffman, the national recruiting director for Scout.com, said that many college coaches jumped on the satellite camp bus out of necessity.
“There were so many camps and so many coaches hitting the road that some of it was more for self-preservation than truly wanting to get on the road to do it,” Huffman said. “There are certain schools that don’t need to do satellite camps. The thing that I don’t think the general public understands is there weren’t Michigan camps in 40 places. These were satellite camps run by different organizations with Michigan coaches. There might be this expectation that (Michigan coach Jim) Harbaugh will be there when it was sometimes a lower level staffer. Kids were going and kids were talking because Michigan had their logo on a flyer. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Ohio State won the national championship 2½ years ago and this is a way for Harbaugh to take back the headlines.”
The question is how much is too much, especially for coaches that were spending nearly 2 1/2 months on the road between the spring evaluation period and the satellite camps.
“More camps might have had the reverse effect,” Huffman said. “There were so many that it watered it down because of the furor around it. I could see coaches going forward saying maybe this is not such a good idea.”
While coaches such as Durkin, Harbaugh and Rutgers’ Chris Ash got a lot of attention for their satellite camps — and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher got attention for not attending any — the schools that might be benefiting the most might be smaller schools such as Division II Bowie State. College coaches are not supposed to use satellite camps as a means to make their sales pitches to players.
“Interestingly enough, we just hosted one last Monday with Penn State and Syracuse at Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, Md.,” said Bowie State defensive coordinator Antone’ Sewell. “I think it’s a good thing because it allows schools like us and other smaller schools to see large groups of kids at one time.
“Most of the those kids probably came to our camp for the Penn State name versus the Bowie State name, however we realize all of those kids aren’t going to be Penn State targets, so it allows us to get a large group of recruit-able kids in the same area. Personally, I think it benefits everybody.”
Satellite camps also benefit schools — even elite programs — that are not in a large geographic area where recruits can easily get to campus.
“For schools that don’t have geography in their favor with a fertile recruiting background, they had to do it to get their brand out there,” Huffman said.
Contributing: Josh Barnett