Teaching, learning at summer camps

Tournaments shine spotlight on athletes, attract offers

July 11, 2008|By STEFEN LOVELACE

School may be out, but I've still been pretty busy.

I've been to Pittsburgh and Maryland's camps. They were individual camps and pretty similar to most of the other camps I've been to, with one-on-one drills, ladder drills, and other agility and speed drills in front of college coaches.

The coaches typically tell me that they want me to visit their schools with my mother and family so that I can see their facilities and talk to people about their academics.

My Dunbar teammates and I also went to Morgantown for the 2008 West Virginia seven-on-seven passing league. The tournament included 48 teams from states including Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In seven-on-seven, teams don't play with pads, and there are no offensive or defensive lines.

In the tournament, we got to show what we could do. The defense couldn't keep up with us because we had too much speed and too many weapons.

We ended up winning the whole thing, our third seven-on-seven title this year. I was there with 12 of my teammates, including Sean Farr, Jonathan Perry, Tevin Brown, Gary Onuekwusi and Horace Miller, all of whom are getting Division I looks.

That's one of the reasons I like doing these tournaments: My teammates get noticed and can get offers. I'm satisfied with my offers, so I really do it for them.

I don't think I'll be going to any more camps this summer, but after winning in West Virginia, we qualified for the National Passing Tournament in Hoover, Ala., which will feature the top 10 seven-on-seven teams nationwide.

Other than that, I've been working at a summer camp coaching kids in volleyball, basketball and football. When I'm not working, I'm going to offseason workouts at Dunbar.

I've changed my training a bit. I'm doing a lot more lifting for my legs, and I'm getting a lot stronger and faster, which will be important going into next season.

My latest scholarship offer was from Tennessee. That brings my total to 15, the other ones coming from Maryland, Boston College, Virginia, Wake Forest, Georgia, South Carolina, Illinois, Penn State, Michigan, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia and Nebraska.

The Volunteers see me as a running back or slot receiver. I think I'd be good in the slot because I can catch and can move just as well as a wide receiver as I can as a running back. I think my offers are going to start tailing off now, as many other recruits are starting to commit to schools.

I'm looking into each school's offense. I don't have a preference, but the differences are clear. Schools such as Michigan, West Virginia and Illinois use more of a spread offense, while Penn State, Maryland and others use more of the I-set. My choice depends in part on which system I want to be in, but I'm just looking for an offense that can free me up.

The recruiting process has changed a little for me. At first it was great, and I was just thinking about going to school for free. But after a while, it becomes apparent who's fake and who's real, and it gets a little stressful. It's not bogging me down, though.

I took my SAT in May, and with my grades, I should be eligible to play. I plan to take the test again, though, just to improve my score.

I haven't decided which schools I'll officially visit, but I have time. I don't plan to make those visits until my senior season starts.

Oh yeah, as far as the coming season goes, I definitely think the Poets are going 14-0.

This is the latest in a series of occasional articles in which Dunbar football standout Tavon Austin takes readers through the recruiting process in his own words, as told to Sun reporter Stefen Lovelace. Austin, a junior running back-defensive back and two-time Sun Offensive Player of the Year, is being recruited heavily by a number of major Division I programs. For the series, Lovelace also consulted with Austin's mother, Cathy Green; his football coach, Lawrence Smith; and his cousin, Aaron Thompson.

ONLINE

Follow the series at baltimoresun.com/austin

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