HONOLULU, Hawaii --After its first two days, the inaugural All-Poly football camp in Hawaii appears to be living up to its billing of becoming a productive camp on the island each year. With its impressive showing of more than 200 players, the camp has provided a stage for prospective student-athletes to showcase their athletic prowess while learning about college life away from the field.
What makes the All-Poly camp unique is its focus on academics, standardized and entrance tests, core curriculum requirements and other topics needed to prepare and qualify student-athletes for college. On Monday, before any on-field workouts, each participant and some family members took part in a four-hour workshop outlining the aforementioned areas of off-field importance.
The focus of the All-Poly camp is not only football, but also informing these young men about the importance of what is necessary off the field to continue their college careers.
"This is an opportunity to educate kids of Polynesian descent on what it takes to become a prospective college football player not only on the field but off," said UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, a former Hawaii resident who attended high school on the island of Oahu.
Chow was one of 20 Division I and II coaches on hand to instruct, mentor and in many cases give back to their roots. Staff members from Colorado, Oregon State, Utah, UNLV, Boise State, Washington, UCLA, Texas Tech, Louisville and BYU, among others, were in attendance to organize, coach and educate an impressive group of collective talent.
The on-field workouts mirrored classroom education with regard to laying the foundation of the basic principles of the game. Prospects took part in individual drills and group work and eventually were divided into teams that would compete and practice against each other throughout the first two days. Before the workout Monday, athletes were led through dynamic stretching and warm-up routines. The speed training was led by Tom Shaw, a highly regarded strength and conditioning coach with an NFL pedigree.
Shaw was not the only representative on hand with NFL ties. Newly appointed New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine lectured on the importance of playing the game fast, physically and with a lot of energy. Pettine talked about his coaching days with the Baltimore Ravens and the motors and chase speed encompassed by that defense led by All-Pro defenders like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
Pettine made a reference to his prior defense by saying the Ravens' motto was "Play like your hair is on fire." The players at this camp have certainly kept that type of intensity going.
The coaches and instructors were teaching the concept of "thud" (making contact but staying off the ground) the first two days, but with players like these, there's only one speed: 93 octane.
As we scouted the various position groups, the linebacker unit appeared to have the best depth and overall talent thus far. It was led by V.J. Fehoko (Kahuku, Hawaii), a 2010 Under Armour All-America Game selection. After an impressive showing at the All-Poly football camp in Utah last month, Fehoko continued to show why he's considered the top prospect on the island this year. While he's not the biggest or fastest on paper, he simply found the football quickly during nine-on-seven drills, showing reactive athleticism as well as great physicality and strength filling at the point of attack.
Not to be overshadowed on the offensive side, quarterback Andrew Manley (Wahiawa, Hawaii/Leilehua) physically warrants far more recruiting interest than he has received to date. Given his impressive measurables, arm strength, quick release and velocity, it's staggering that this young man only has one offer so far, from WAC member Hawaii. At this stage, Manley is clearly worthy of lower-tier BCS conference offers and multiple non-BCS offers. Manley is not of Polynesian descent but is a Hawaii resident who, based on physical tools alone, is flying under the radar.