The county's second annual Football Linemen's Camp may be lacking the same numbers from its inaugural year, but the enthusiasm of the coaches and players involved has not waned.
Camp director Bryan Brouse, who conceived and initiated the non-contact clinic last summer as his way of "giving something back to the county," stood among a smattering of linemen yesterday on the fields adjacent to the Severna Park American Legion Post 175 and refused to make excuses for the camp's decline in enrollment.
"It doesn't make a bit of difference to me," said Brouse, an Annapolis native who played football under the late Al Laramore. "We were top-heavy with seniors last year and none of them came back, but this year we have a lot of new faces and a lot of them are younger, so they can come back the next couple of years.
"I really think next year we're going to break 60, but it makes no difference to me because I'm going to have it, even if I only have five kids."
The six-day camp, which began Sunday and runs through Friday, has attracted 21 high school-age athletes (12 fewer than last year) who have chosen to spend a week of their summer focusing on the fundamentals and techniques of offensive and defensive line play.
The clinic, which runs daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., is divided into two two-hour practice sessions. The morning practice focuses on run blocking and tackling, and the latter session is xTC devoted to pass blocking and pass rushing.
Lunch is provided for the athletes each day, and during that time they consume both the necessary nutrients and the pertinent information they will someday need to get into college.
"We're trying to expose them to the recruiting process colleges go through," said Brouse, a Severna Park resident who spends most of the year as head football coach and physical education )) chairman at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I.
"We're trying to let them know what they have to do as a football player to be more marketable to colleges. Any way that we can turn the corner for these kids, that's what we're here for."
Area high school coaches and college coaches from Salisbury, Frostburg, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown are scheduled to make daily visits to instruct the student-athletes both on and off the field.
Brouse, who served as offensive coordinator at Towson State University, believes the timing of the camp -- three weeks before the start of high school practice -- enables the players to get a jump on the competition, and their teammates, as well.
Michael McLaughlin, a Broadneck senior, played for the Bruins' varsity squad last year but didn't start. He is hoping the added experience will help him earn a starting position this season.
"My coach told me about the camp and said that a lot of the linemen who had gone last year were way ahead of the rest of the guys when practice started, so I decided to give it a try," said McLaughlin. "Once high school practice starts, the coaches are worried about putting in plays and they don't have time to work on technique. Hopefully, this will give me an edge."
Matt Smear, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound lineman from Annapolis, played second-string tackle for the Panthers as a sophomore last year and is hoping the camp's favorable player/coach ratio will help him break into a starting role.
"Some guys from our team came here last year and said they got a lot out of it and Coach [Roy] Brown recommended it, so I decided to come out," said Smear, a center/guard. "I went to another camp this summer at Penn State and there were over 700 people, but there aren't too many people here, so you get a lot of individual attention."
Steve Luckey, a 6-foot-2, 242-pounder, expects to make the varsity at Broadneck as a sophomore this season. He is attending the camp to increase his value as a player and to secure his spot on the Bruin roster.
"I was hoping to learn some new techniques and get back into football so come Aug. 15, I'd be ready for it," said McLaughlin. "I've already learned some things I've never even heard about and it's shed a whole new light on the game. I never knew there were so many ways to block."