JAMES MAYDEN'S NEWS
National Team Trials draw players, coaches back to Austin
Jordan Bracy left Saturday’s first day of the USA Football National Team Trials a better player and a wiser person than when he arrived.
That didn’t surprise Bracy. He came into the two-day event at Burger Stadium in Austin, Texas, expecting as much.
An 11th grader from Mesquite, Texas, Brady knew what he was getting into. He attended 2011 National Team Trials events in Austin and Marietta, Ga. When given the opportunity to go a third time, there was no hesitation.
“The level of competition is similar to other places I’ve been, but the quality of coaching is unparalleled,” Bracy said. “The off-the-field talks, the lessons you learn to apply to your life, you can’t get that anywhere else.”
The trials include individual position drills, one-on-one and seven-on-seven competitions where players can improve their skills and compete for spots on U.S. Under-19, Under-17 and Under-15 National Teams.
USA Football employs skill development, evaluation and competition to assess trials athletes on their football abilities. Each player receives a written evaluation by USA Football’s clinicians and scouts with NFL experience.
Former NFL players serving as keynote speakers also address leadership and character-development topics as well offer suggestions to help families manage the college recruiting process.
It’s a combination that brought James Mayden of Rowlett, Texas, back as well.
“You are competing against the best in the U.S., but it’s more about the instruction than the competition,” Mayden said. “I want to learn something every minute here, not waste a single minute.”
The deal goes both ways as does the appreciation for hard work and commitment, said former NFL safety Ron Rice, a National Team Trials coach and evaluator.
“Coaches want to be a part of a kid’s life in a positive, memorable way,” Rice said. “This event is about a great group of guys and a great organization coming together to do that. The players will always remember this. It’s about being a student-athlete, learning to interact with people and knowing who you surround yourself with. What kids do at 13 can impact them for the rest of their lives.
“There are always great players who show up to this, but I tell them all they are not complete products. No matter how good they are, they still have to work on everything.”
Minnesota Vikings scout Steven Price, another National Trials evaluator, echoed Rice’s sentiments. Teaching young men to grow as players and as individuals help build the sport and society.
“It is unbelievable to see the quality of coaching these players are receiving and the advice that speakers are able to share with them,” Price said. “It is exciting to watch someone you coach become a great player. It is uplifting to watch someone you coach become a better person.”
USE WHAT YOU LEARN Nothing makes a coach happier than a player who listens to instruction, then goes out and performs. For Warren Hobbs, a 10th-grader from Humble, Texas, nothing made him happier Saturday than finally overcoming something he had been struggling with.
“I can get sluggish with my feet, and when I lose (on a pass rush), I get upset with myself right away and it affects me beyond that play,” said Hobbs, a defensive lineman. “If I miss one tackle, I sometimes lose control.”
Working with defensive line coaches Aaron Brady of Gonzaga (D.C.) High School and former NFL player Chris Slade, Hobbs got his feet under control and found himself in position to make the plays. Encouragement from the coaches helped him overcome his mental lapses and kept his focus moving forward.
“I’m learning so much new here,” Hobbs said. “I can do better. I can play better. It’s all up to me.”
TIPS FROM THE PROS Anthony Canady of Mesquite didn’t know anything about Rice, the defensive backs coach, but planned to Google him when he got home. What the 11th grader from Mesquite will find is that he spent two days with a six-year NFL pro.
“He knows his stuff. All these coaches know their stuff, and they are really good at getting down and showing you how to do it,” Canady said. “I learned how to be more patient when I jam a receiver and not lunge. I want to ease into my backpedal and let him come to me.”
~ By Joe Frollo Sun, 01/29/2012 - 11:19am - National Teams, General Articles. www.usafootball.com