From Summer Camps to the Big Time

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel passes during organized team activities at the NFL football team's facility in Berea, Ohio Wednesday, May 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Mark Duncan/AP

With June rolling around, camp season is hitting full swing, giving college coaches a chance to work first hand with prospective recruits and giving those kids a chance to show their talent and earn offers.

Camp season is a time where kids can go from unheralded or under-recruited to instant high priority for colleges.

Here are a few past success stories as proof. 

Jake Long: While Lapeer is not far from Ann Arbor, Long still had to come show the Wolverines what he could do and following an entire week at camp (more common then than today’s age of one-days), he was offered by then-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr. He would go on to become an All-American and first pick in the NFL Draft.

Johnny Manziel: Johnny Football already had three BCS offers by the time he set foot in Eugene for Oregon’s camp in the summer of 2010, but he ended the camp with an offer from Chip Kelly and commited to the Ducks. It was not until August, when Texas A&M offered, that he switched to the Aggies, with whom he would win a Heisman Trophy and become a 1st Round pick.

Chris Borland: A good athlete who could play several positions at Kettering Alter in Ohio, Borland did not have a single scholarship offer when he came to Madison for camp in 2008. He had been to several other Big Ten camps, but had not been offered. Then-Badger head man Bret Bielema loved his versatility at camp and offered him as an athlete. He would go on to become an All-American linebacker a Wisconsin and an NFL Draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers.

John Reid: 8th graders are not often even at college camps, but Reid, a cornerback at Philadelphia St. Joseph’s Prep, attended camps at Boston Colleg and Rutgers, and despite never playing a high school snap, earned offers from both schools. Today, he is a four-star prospect with offers from around the country.

Darren Carrington: Hailing from a small private school in San Diego, Carrington had to go earn his respect at the NFTC, but even that and a couple other strong performances still netted him zero offers. After another good performance at Oregon’s camp, the Ducks pulled the trigger. Carrington committed and could start this year as a redshirt freshman.

Jermaine Kelly: Entering the 2012 camp season, Kelly was a no-name, two-star kid with one offer from Hawaii. After excelling at both Washington and UCLA’s camps, he earned offers from those programs. He later added a USC offer following their camp. He would end the year as a Scout 300, four-star prospect, and after committing to Washington, he has an inside track on a starting wde receiver job this year.

Trae Waynes: Waynes had zero FBS offers when he came to East Lansing for Michigan State’s camp. After running the fastest 40-yard dash time at the camp and performing well in one on ones, he earned a Spartan offer which he later accepted. He started all 14 games last season as a sophomore, earning All Big Ten honors, and will be the Spartans’ top cover man this year with Darqueze Dennard headed to the NFL.

Deshaun Watson: Although he had started a buzz by playing his freshman year on the varsity, Watson was without an offer when he came to Clemson’s camp just before his sophomore season. The Tigers, seeing his obvious talent, became the first school to offer him following that camp. He would commit to the Tigers the following Winter, and stayed committed despite receiving over 20 offers. He will be a freshman for the Tigers this fall.

Tyler Eifert: Notre Dame had a tight end commit, but Eifert, an in-state prospect, camped in hopes the Irish would take one more. Despite a great performance, no offer came and the staff continued to evaluate other tight ends through camp season. When none could best what Eifert had done, he was offered and committed, becoming an All-American and a 1st Round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Travis Frederick: Frederick had just one offer from Air Force when camp season began, and all of the schools he camped with passed on him before he got to home-state Wisconsin at the end of the month. He was offered by the Badgers at the conclusion of the camp and he committed, where he would go on to become a multi-year starter and the Dallas Cowboys’ first round selection.