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Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake cheers for his players after a fourth down stand as BYU and Hawaii play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. BYU won 49-23. (Scott Winterton, Deseret News)
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BYU Football Summer Camps Are Big For Recruiting, Betterment Of Sport

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake cheers for his players after a fourth down stand as BYU and Hawaii play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. BYU won 49-23. (Scott Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Summer football camps on college campuses have become a critical piece to the recruiting calendar for many college football programs.

It’s no different for the Brigham Young University football program. But what BYU head coach Kalani Sitake will tell you is that it’s also an opportunity to improve the game of football by teaching great fundamentals to young athletes.

“I know that it’s (summer football camps) a big part of recruiting. But it’s also a big part of football. Running and making sure that our kids are safe out there as they go into full padded practices and full contact in the fall,” said Sitake.

Sitake and the BYU Football program wrapped up their first summer camp yesterday in Provo.  The fourth-year head coach and his staff will host a second camp next Monday through Wednesday.

“I think the camps are really important for our recruits and young men to be around our coaches,” said Sitake on BYU’s summer camps.

Sitake continued, “In the evaluation times in May, you’re able to see how kids grow and how they matured in the last year, from the year before. These young men change even within months of each other. There are kids that look different now than they did when their season ended in December or November. It’s good for us to be around them.  But also for us to see how they take our instruction in football and how they take some of the techniques and fundamentals that we are teaching and adapt it quickly in the drills that we run.”

BYU’s entire coaching staff coaches up the athletes that attend the camps. First-year offensive line coach Eric Mateos went to social media to express how much he enjoyed the kids in attendance for this past week’s camp.

Goals of Camp

The goal of these camps is to make each student-athlete a better football player and to connect says Sitake.

“There’s a little bit of competition there (in camp). But most of it is to connect with them. Our goal in camps is to make these young men better football players. So when they go back to their high schools or their junior highs they can bring something to the table that they didn’t have before and they can kind of improve on their skills.  But it also allows us to connect with them on a personal level, being able to see them eye to eye and see how they interact with us, our coaches and our program, and the other players.”

Relationships

Along with connecting with the coaches, any recruit would tell you how important connecting with current members of the program impact recruitment.  Look at BYU graduate transfer running back Ty’Son Williams.  Williams formed a strong bond on his official visit with BYU wide receiver Micah Simon. The former South Carolina running back bought into the vision from Simon and his future teammates by turning down Florida State to play for the Cougars.  Sitake sees summer camps as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with current players on the team.

“The other thing is seeing them (camp attendees) being coached by our current players on the current team. Having that connection carries over into recruiting,” said Sitake.

Commitments

Since Kalani Sitake became the head coach at BYU in 2016, it’s hard to find many recruits that the Cougars added from the high school ranks who didn’t attend a summer camp coached by Sitake.

This has been common practice in BYU recruiting for decades, and it continues with Sitake. Last year, BYU landed commitments from Lone Peak High standout Michael Daley who signed with the Cougars last December.  Bodie Schoonover a three-star linebacker from American Fork was an unknown in recruiting circles when he committed to BYU last summer. Now he’s one of the popular linebackers out west lining up a solid list of power five offers.

BYU will see a handful of commitments come out of these camps this summer for the class of 2020 and beyond. But for now, it will be focusing on improving the game of football for all the kids that attend and strengthening those relationships and giving kids lasting memories from their time at BYU football camp.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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