Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Brookwood's Adam Ledford participates in a drill during the Georgia Southern one-day football camp at Mill Creek on Saturday.
HOSCHTON -- The parking lot outside Mill Creek High School's Community Stadium told the story of just how popular Georgia Southern University football is in this state.
With nearly 40 counties and three states represented, 325 high school rising juniors and seniors made their way to Mill Creek on Saturday for the 2011 Option U Georgia Southern one-day football camp.
Featuring a south Georgia camp at Camden County High School and a north Georgia camp at Mill Creek, Georgia Southern took advantage of a new opportunity to host these one-day events to capture both geographic ends of the state and the results have been very good.
"We're excited to get up here, to give these kids the opportunity to participate without having to possibly travel as far to Statesboro," said Georgia Southern head coach Jeff Monken, who is entering his second year after leading the Eagles to the NCAA FCS semifinals last season. "This is also a great opportunity for these kids to experience Georgia Southern football and meet our coaches."
Beginning early Saturday morning with registration, the camp featured a session to check height and weight along with a vertical jump. Players then moved into a session on recruiting and compliance issues as they enter their junior or senior year of high school.
Following a late-morning session of outdoor testing that included a 40-yard dash and pro agility, players moved into the afternoon sessions for position drills, one-on-one competition, offensive line vs. defensive line and 7-of-7 drills to close out the day.
"We really anticipated getting a lot of players in here today," said Monken, who also coached in 2008-09 at Georgia Tech. "We were in contact with every school in the state and even counties on the borders like Tennessee and South Carolina.
"I think in places like Gwinnett County and the Atlanta area, football is really important for the communities and we wanted to get the word out about Georgia Southern. There is such a large population base that we can reach out to. There are a lot of high schools overall, plus a large number of new high schools that we're trying to reach, so (Mill Creek) was a good location for us."
A number of Gwinnett County schools were represented among the 325 camp participants, including Brookwood's Shaun McGee.
"We heard about the camp from our coaches and some of my teammates decide to come up here," said McGee, a rising junior. "I think we have about seven (players) here and all us are hoping to go to college. It's always good to keep your options open, but I am considering Georgia Southern.
"I've sat down with my mom and we have a list that we'll go over. But I still have a long way just in high school. I know (Georgia Southern) has a good history, so they caught my interest."
For a football program that features six national championships since the sport was pulled from a 40-year dormancy by legendary coach Erk Russell back in 1981, the opportunity to conduct this camp sure went a long way to keep that winning tradition moving forward.
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