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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 8, 2007

Football camp focuses on academics

Photo galleryPhoto gallery: Football Camp

By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

One of the most popular mentors at the Game Plan Football Camp was University of Hawai'i slotback Ryan Grice-Mullins, who is surrounded by several of the 320 participants.

Photos by ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Punahou's Manti Teo leaps to deflect a pass on the Brigham Young-Hawai'i campus.

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Players compete in the seven-on-seven tournament.

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There have been many stud high school football players who had what it took on the field, but didn't perform well enough in the classroom to get into college.

The three-day Game Plan Football Camp, which wrapped up yesterday on the Brigham Young-Hawai'i campus, was aimed at making sure its participants will know the various college academic requirements.

There were 320 high school student-athletes at the camp, and each day started at 6:30 a.m. and ended at 11 p.m.

The main focus was on preparing them academically for college. Coaches were paired with a mentor and they gave seminars on SAT preparation, NCAA Clearinghouse requirements and other college admission policies. The mentors included University of Hawai'i slotbacks Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullins.

Being instructed on the field by the 27 college coaches was the secondary focus.

"I really think this camp does a big service to the student-athlete with the NCAA raising the bar educationally like they have," said Utah's Kyle Whittingham, who will be entering his third season as head coach. "The more we can educate these athletes and the earlier we can educate these athletes, the better chance they have of being NCAA-qualified."

NCAA academic requirements change every so often. Game Plan director Eli Kapu said one of the recent changes is Division I student-athletes need 16 core classes, up from 14.

"If you weren't seeing a counselor, like many kids don't, you wouldn't be aware of that," Kapu said.

Aaron Tipoti, a senior-to-be at Word of Life who plays for Pac-Five, said he's familiar with individuals who were talented football players, but couldn't get into college.

"Actually, I have family members and friends, they had awesome potential," said Tipoti, a defensive end. "They did everything they needed to do on the field, but they lacked that special something in the classroom where they really needed to get it done."

Game Plan organizer Asai Gilman said "the beauty of the camp" is most college levels are represented.

"All these coaches are representing Division I, II and III, and junior college," Gilman said. "Not every student-athlete here will go to Division I, so they need an option."

San Jose City College head coach Carlton Connor said he'll have 10 to 15 players from Hawai'i on his roster this season.

"A lot of kids over here don't understand JCs or what they're about, and that you can play athletics in JC because the (local) community colleges don't have athletics," Connor said.

Asai said, since it's a dead period in football recruiting, the coaches need to be "wearing their academic coach hat." Recruiting sales pitches were prohibited.

"They come down not to represent their school," he said. "They come down as an academic coach to help kids understand the rigor and academic preparation to get into college."

There were participants from Hawai'i, Utah, Oregon and New Zealand, according to Asai.

On the field, players worked on one-on-one drills and a 7-on-7 tournament was held.

"It's a great opportunity, especially for guys like us from the Neighbor Islands to compete against the best in the state," said Baldwin quarterback Jordan Helle, who will be a senior. "And the coaching here is second to none."

Reach Kyle Sakamoto at ksakamoto@honoluluadvertiser.com.