The MHSAA and Michigan High School Coaches Association partner to showcase high school players
The two organizations want to help prep football players get in front of college coaches and scouts, trying to help them further their careers.
In the ever-changing landscape of college sports, high school athletes are increasingly overlooked by scouts. Coaches are looking for talent from other programs, leaving prep athletes on the outside for playing slots.
“It’s changed a lot over the last year and a half with the transfer portal and NIL,” Rob Zimmerman, head football coach at DeWitt High School, said. “I think it’s tougher for high school kids now, certainly.”
Now, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) is adjusting, hoping to provide more exposure for football players.
The MHSAA is partnering with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) for the first-ever spring evaluation camps from May 15-18. Each day has two sessions – one in the morning and one at night – hosted between five schools throughout Michigan.
The camps move west to east throughout the week, reaching mid-Michigan on Tuesday:
- Monday, May 15: Jenison High School (both sessions)
- Tuesday, May 16: DeWitt High School (morning only)
- Tuesday, May 16: Jackson High School (afternoon only)
- Wednesday, May 17: Brighton High School (both sessions)
- Thursday, May 18: Detroit Country Day School (both sessions)
“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for college coaches,” Zimmerman said. “There’s two each day where they can go to one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Because of that, they can really knock out the whole state in (four) days if they so choose.”
The camp is open to any football player who is either a rising junior or senior. The cost is $20 per athlete, which includes a T-shirt to mark each player by graduation year and registration.
While spring football camps are nothing new, both Zimmerman and the MHSAA hope the low cost brings out more players that couldn’t afford other camps.
“There’s a lot of organizations out there that are making a lot of money off of high school kids trying to get recruited,” Zimmerman said. “This is a way for them to have college coaches come in and spend very, very little money.”
These will be no contact, no pads, helmet-optional sessions. However, camp organizers want to avoid combine-style testing and focus on drills that put the players in game situations.
“The only test we’re running is the (40-yard dash); the rest is all position work,” Zimmerman said. “We’ll see some agility, some individual position works in groups and then some 1-on-1, 7-on-7 type of stuff.”
The MHSAA experimented with a similar idea a year ago: a seniors-only showcase with coaches from the NCAA Division II to NAIA levels. This year’s version expands not only to juniors but Division I coaches.
“I don’t think (Division I) coaches came last year because it was still a question of whether or not they will be out of compliance if they came,” said Antonio Parker, head coach at Jackson High. “And so I think they got compliance from the NCAA to be able to come to this one.”
Now that Division I is getting involved, both coaches said they expect between 60 and 80 scouts and coaches at their camps.
Zimmerman said players can save time and money by having so many coaches in a central location.
“I think there’s more visibility certainly for the kids…It’s also saving the kids money, not only the fee to be a part of this but also just not the timing, traveling to so many different sites,” he said. “They still go to some other camps, but they won’t have to go to as many.”
The amount of college coaches in attendance helps the high school coaches too. As a second year head coach, Parker said that this camp gives him the opportunity to network with other coaches and establish a connection that helps future players be scouted.
“Even in my small tenure as being the head coach the biggest thing I’ve seen about recruiting so far, it’s all about relationships and being able to create that relationship with the recruiter,” Parker said. “…Hopefully it creates a pipeline of kids that can go to their schools.”
Parker expects about 40 Jackson players at the camp, and Zimmerman expects between 10 and 15 DeWitt players to attend their session.
“I think this is a great opportunity for kids,” Parker said, “not just kids for Jackson High but for kids around Jackson County to get recruited by several coaches around the country.”