Junior Colleges

Gulf Coast's Elite Camp a hit with coaches, campers

WATCH: Scenes from MGCCC Elite Camp

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College had coaches from more than 15 Division I programs on hand Friday for the school's first Elite Camp.
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Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College had coaches from more than 15 Division I programs on hand Friday for the school's first Elite Camp.

PERKINSTON - They came from all over.

Some of the campers wore familiar high school logos, like Gulfport, Harrison Central and St. Martin. Others drove to Perkinston on Friday from surrounding states Alabama, Louisiana and even Florida.

Why? To attend Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's first "Elite Camp."

The Bulldogs host a lineman camp annually that draws well, but that camp is spread over three days. Friday's Elite Camp attracted more than 420 campers for the five-hour workout, which was made possible in large part by recent NCAA legislation that allowed Division I schools to participate in "satellite camps," or off-campus camps.

Gulf Coast's was one of the first collaborative efforts in the region. Louisiana-Lafayette and LSU have individually held camps, but Friday's featured coaches from more than 15 schools - making it "elite" for a number of reasons.

Ed Orgeron represented LSU, Herb Hand and Kodi Burns were among Auburn's coaches present. Missouri had almost a dozen coaches on the Coast. Tulane, Ole Miss, ULL, Arkansas State, Central Arkansas, Middle Tennessee, Troy, UAB and Alcorn State also had coaches running players through drills.

"It was awesome," MGCCC head coach Chad Huff said. "It's a one stop shop type of deal. Instead of sending kids every other day to schools and spending their whole summer, they came here today for a one stop shop and got to be seen by a lot of different Division I schools at one time."

After weighing in and getting measured, the campers ran 40-yard dashes before breaking into groups for positional drills.

"It was good. There was a lot of competition from all over the country. Everybody came to play and showed up to play," said St. Martin receiver Kalem Reddix, who recently de-committed from Southern Miss. "All the colleges were here. Had to come. Couldn't say no."

Many of the athletes come out to camps to get seen and possibly land an offer. That wasn't exactly the case for Ocean Springs receiver Austin Williams, a Mississippi State commit who attracted plenty of attention.

"There was a lot of talent out here. Ton of people from all over, so it was good to compete," Williams said. "I just wanted to get coached by some of these guys and keep on competing every day. I don't want to get complacent."

Huff spoke to Gulf Coast's easily accessible location in South Mississippi, as well as the program's ability to get kids to the next level, as reasons for the large contingent of coaches.

"Mississippi Gulf Coast is located in a great place and I think the radius of kids who you can draw - from South Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama - is huge," he said. "There's a lot of great players down here. That speaks volumes of the high school coaches in the region. There's a lot of talent that comes out of this area. Football is important here."

A prime example is Missouri, which has recruited the South hard - especially recently.

Special teams analyst Jonathan Rutledge, who used to be on staff at Ole Miss and is a Madison Central graduate, said trekking back down to the Magnolia State made too much sense for his program.

"We've got some guys who are from Mississippi, and guys who have been recruiting Mississippi for a while, so it's good to get back down here and see the guys we wouldn't normally be able to get up to camp because it's about 12 hours from here," he said. "There's still some roots in Mississippi who are from St. Louis, so it's kind of a natural draw that's good for us."

There are more camps on the horizon in the area. The C.J. Bailey Skills Academy, which is partnered with Memphis and split between Biloxi High School and Mobile, is scheduled for June 10. Gulf Coast opens its popular three-day lineman camp June 12-14.

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