Traveling camps a huge success in year threeJune 15, 2004 · MT Media Relations
These camps are McCollum's unique method of reaching out to potential recruits who may not be able to attend camp on campus, by taking the program to them. The Blue Raider staff just completed the third year of such camps throughout the Southeast, hosting one-day clinics in four states - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.
By the time McCollum's staff completed six traveling camps throughout the Southeast, almost 1,000 high-school age football players had attended the Traveling Camps and left wearing a Middle Tennessee football T-Shirt.
"We go on the road and coach these young men like we coach our own," McCollum said. "We talk about the sense of urgency we expect and demand. We break every huddle saying, 'Blue Raiders.' We work on fundamentals and break things down for the athletes, offensive and defensively. We have had success with these camps and our numbers have grown each year."
This year's camp stretch began in Marietta, Ga., on June 1 with 180 players from all areas of north Georgia attending. Coach Mac begins the day by addressing the group, introducing his staff, and then the players stretch in preparation of agility drills. They also work an hour on offensive instruction, followed by an hour on defensive instruction before McCollum concludes the day with his farewell.
On June 2 it was on to Dublin High School, in Dublin, Ga., where former Beech High School coach Roger Holmes now leads the program. It was the largest of the six camps with 270 players participating. The camp attracted players from the greater south Georgia area. Former Middle Tennessee standout Rob Ridings brought 20 players from Glenn Academy, where he is the head coach.
The destination was Prattville, Ala., on June 3 as the staff began its third day of camp. This camp attracted 110 players from Montgomery and the south Alabama region. The next stop on the McCollum tour was Huntsville, Ala., marking the first time the staff had conducted one of its camps there. The camp was held on June 4 at Municipal Stadium and had 100 players participate.
The Middle Tennessee staff returned to its roots on June 6 to host the annual "Rising Junior/Senior Camp," which had 140 student-athletes attend. This camp varies from other clinics, as it is a recruiting tool. Players are taken on campus tours, have an academic meeting, and spend time going through drill work with Blue Raider coaches.
The sixth and final camp was conducted in Florida - a state that has recently became a hot bed for Middle Tennessee. The camp attracted 125 football players and was conducted at Ft. Walton High School. The head coach at Ft. Walton is Mike Owens, a former teammate of McCollum's, and assistant coach David Garner is a former Middle Tennessee baseball assistant under John Stanford. It marked the first time McCollum held a camp in Florida. Two Blue Raider signees were at the camp - Damon Nickson and Chris Ritter.
While the camp is a novel way of taking the Blue Raider football message to perspective athletes throughout the Southeast, it also proves to be a benefit for McCollum and the staff.
"For us and our new staff, getting out in Georgia, Florida and Alabama was great," McCollum said. "Not only are we having success with our camps and having great numbers, but with all the turnover and new coaches it's a benefit for us to be able to get out together, do some positive things and have the chance to bond by spending a lot of time together away from the field or office."
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