Panama City beach, FL---There's an art to being scouted. There's a skill to showing off your skills. In the always competitive, always overcrowded world of collegiate recruiting, any way you can be seen, take it.
For high school football players from all across the Panhandle, they got a great opportunity to get some shine Thursday at Arnold High School as over 150 locals laced their cleats at the University of South Florida's satellite football camp.
USF head coach Willie Taggart and his staff, along with coaches from both Florida A&M and the brand new West Florida program, were all out to scout the talent in Panama City Beach and beyond.
After finishing his first full season with the Bulls, Coach Taggart brought one of his four summer camps to the Gulf Coast as part of his plan to comb each and every area of our state.
"Well I think the entire state is talent rich," says the now second year USF head coach. "I'm originally from Florida, had the opportunity where we played teams up in the Panhandle, and it's good football all over this entire state. For us, we can't leave any rocks unturned. We're trying to go all over and get the best ones for us and no matter where they're at, we want to bring them to our program."
Of the 28 players who joined South Florida in 2013, 17 came from this summer camp satellite program. If players want a chance to get a real shot, this is as good as it gets. But what exactly are these coaches looking for?
"I like kids that follow direction," says Taggart. "A lot of these guys can play football. I won't discipline guys that follow direction and do the little things. Then when we get into competitive situations, I like to see guys compete. I want guys who want to win everytime they line up and we saw a lot of that today."
"A lot of these young men we've seen on film and we've talked to their coaches about, so now you're looking to see how do they compete, how do they handle instruction," says West Florida head coach Pete Shinnick. "It's hot out here, are they gonna pay attention. Are they doing their own thing. Those are the little things that you don't necesarily see on film or see when you show up to watch a game."
As for the players, who are giving their absolute all to try and even get a second of attention, are they annoyed, bothered even to have to deal with so much competition?
"It's exciting, especially to be able to come out and compete against a bunch of other athletes," says Arnold QB Cody Saunders. "It's fun coming out here and being able to see what you got, see what other competition there is in the Panhandle."
"It's great to just be able to just compete with them and show them I'm possibly better" says Mosley linebacker Reakwon Jones. "I get better every time I compete against someone who's on a high level like that."
South Florida's staff is off to Jacksonville Friday for their final summer satellite camp of the year.