Summer's coming and so are the football camps

Go "camping" with Coach Meyer and Co.

Summer is approaching and summer time means sports camps time. The University of Florida football staff will be conducting Urban Meyer's Summer Football Camps starting in early June and this year's version promises to be one of the best ever camps of its kind.

The Gator staff will be joining forces with other college coaches as well as former Gator greats and NFL players to help try and make younger athletes better in the game of football. Gator Safeties Coach John "Doc" Holliday is in charge of the camps again this season and he is excited about the opportunity the staff has to share its knowledge of the fundamentals of football with young people from all over the country.

June 4th through June 7th kicks off the eleven day venture with a Team and Elite Lineman camp. The team portion of the camp allows high school teams to bring their skill position players in and get them coached up with the Gator staff and selected other college coaches. It also offers a competitive tournament where the teams from around the southeast can come in and see how they rate against each other. Coach Holliday says the team portion is filling up and squads that want to participate need to get their registration in.

The linemen will compete against each other, but that portion of the camp isn't designed for squads. They will receive individualized attention with Gator Offensive Line Coaches John Hevesy and Steve Addazio and Defensive Line Coach and Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison, There will also be a handful of other college coaches assisting with the offensive linemen to make sure they leave with a better learning of the fundamentals and techniques of line play.

"We coach those kids up in the morning and they actually compete in 7 on 7 competition at night," Doc Holliday said about the team camp, "At the same time a lineman camp will be going on and we coach them up to. We have an awful lot of other college coaches (Bowling Green, Villanova and others) coming in and helping with the lineman camp too."

The week continues June 8th – 10th when the younger athletes get a chance to compete and learn more about the game of football. Anyone ages five through entering the sixth grade can participate in the Junior Gator Camp. Like last year, the camp will be day time only and the hours of operation are 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. The camp is also very reasonably priced and will have lots of instruction from the Gator football coaches.

"The kids have access to the Gator coaches the whole time," Holliday said about the Junior Camp. "We don't hire outside for the junior camp. Right now, that's the biggest draw. The numbers are really up from last year and I think it's going to be great."

"We try and coach them up at every position. We try to give them some quarterback play, running back skills, defensive backs, etc. At that point and that age they need to have fun. We try and coach them up in all areas. At that age, they don't know where they will end up. We will also introduce them to strength coach Mickey Marotti, because at that age they don't know what they're doing in weight training and we try to teach them exactly what they should be doing at that age."

During the same June 8th - 10th timeline will be the Kicking Camp. This camp for kickers and punters of all ages will be an over night camp and will also receive special attention from Head Coach Urban Meyer and various kicking coaches he assembles.

"We moved the kicking camp to the same time as the Junior Gators, so they can have more space," Holliday said after learning on the job last season in the Gator staff's first season at Florida. "We bring in a staff of kickers and kicking coaches. Coach Meyer runs our special teams and will be a big part of that camp also."

Individual instruction of older players is the big theme for the final session of the 2006 version of Urban Meyer's Football Camps. Players entering seventh grade to entering 12th grade can come June 11 - 14th and be introduced to college coaching of the game of football. Extra coaches will be brought in and used to help teach the athletes the game of football and it is guaranteed they will leave learning something new and useful.

"The individual camp is the next step after the Junior Gators," Holliday said. "They can come in and spend the night and be instructed by all of our coaches. One thing we don't want to happen at camp is for them to walk away and say they never saw the Gator coaches. Al of our coaches including Coach Meyer and the strength staff are all involved. What we do is bring in an extra college coach for every position to help coach the positions. There will be plenty of instruction going on."

No doubt the biggest addition this year to Urban Meyer's Camps is the return of several Gator greats and other NFL players to assist in coaching the quarterbacks in the Elite Quarterback Camp. Holliday and company are absolutely ecstatic that former Gators who have been conducting the BMW camp in Ocala are now going to be a part of the university of Florida experience.

"We are real excited about that," Holliday said. "We joined forces with all the ex-Gator quarterbacks. We will have Danny Wuerffel, Shane Mathews and Kerwin Bell who used to head up their own camp. We combined the two and now we are hiring them all. Rex Grossman and Alex Smith are planning to come in and help out. Coach Meyer and Coach Mullen will play a big part in the camp. We kind of track our numbers and that looks like it's going to be a big camp for us."

After spending a few years with gator football camps, I can assure that the young players will first of all have a good time. Second, they will learn a lot about the game of football. They will also make a great deal of friends while on the University of Florida campus.

As an outside observer and having watched a great deal of the camp last season, I can also assure that the hands on attention with the Gator staff and various skilled coaches is probably unmatched anywhere in the country. The fact that former Gator greats and well schooled players are coming back adds a great luster to the camp and it should be a special time for all involved.

For more information, please go to http://gatorzone.com/camps/?sport=footb or email the football office at footballmail@gators.uaa.ufl.edu .

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