Don’t get them wrong, Cal’s coaches will be on the road at satellite camps in Southern California and in Texas, and will also do a few camps closer to home in the Bay Area. But head coach Sonny Dykes said the attention being paid to the camps as a whole has “gotten a little bit out of control.”
“I think the satellite camp thing is a little bit silly,” Dykes said. “I think it’s all about generating attention, and I get that.”
By now, it’s well-established. Michigan made people mad with its “Summer Swarm.” Satellite camps were banned, and then the ban was overturned. Since then, satellite camps have become as synonymous with college football as the Heisman Trophy.
During the short-lived time of the satellite camp ban, arguably the most outspoken group against it were the people and companies who put on camps this month that had historically been attended by college coaches. Some camps can charge upwards of $100 for recruits to attend, with the promise that coaching staffs from programs across the country will be in attendance, evaluating prospects and looking to extend offers. The prevailing thought from that side of the argument was that satellite camps offer undiscovered prospects an opportunity to jump on the radar of college programs -- an opportunity that wouldn’t exist without said camp.
Michigan is attending multiple satellite camps in California. Two of them just so happen to be at the high schools of No. 4 overall prospect Najee Harris and No. 15 overall prospect Joseph Lewis. Tennessee is putting on its elite linemen camp at the high school of No. 1 overall prospect Trey Smith. And those certainly aren’t the only two programs looking to take advantage of what amounts to an extra unofficial visit -- one taken by the coaches, rather than the prospect -- during a quiet period.
Dykes isn’t buying the effectiveness. He said it makes sense for Cal to do a few satellite camps, but that he won’t go into them looking to create any buzz or hype or truly discover any previously unheard of prospects.
“By this stage, we usually know whether or not we’re recruiting them,” Dykes said. “I don’t think we’re going to learn that much about them by going out and doing a satellite camp, but we are going to get to know them and they’re going to have an opportunity to get to know us, and that’s what recruiting is all about -- it’s about relationships and it’s about trust, and I think that’s a lot more important than testing some kid.”
Dykes said the one thing that can jump out at coaches during a camp is the way an unknown prospect competed during the event, but rarely ever will a one-day look at a prospect result in a decision being made on a scholarship offer.
“More often than not, kids hurt themselves more than they help themselves,” Dykes said. “A lot of times you’re not sure about a kid and he goes to some camp and he doesn’t run particularly well, so you say, ‘Maybe we’ll pass on him.’”
Dykes also mentioned the fact that a number of prospects will do multiple camps in a short period of time, so they might not be at their physical best when the coaches have an opportunity to see them, which is why the satellite camp will always just be a small part of the recruiting tool kit used by a majority of schools.
“Guys that show up on film that are good players on film are usually good players on Saturday, and guys that are good players on Saturday are usually good players on Sunday,” Dykes said of trusting film far more than one-day camp settings. “And that’s just kind of the way it works.”