by Chuck Pool (email@example.com) -
In what has been a whirlwind seven months since being named Rice's 19th head football coach, Mike Bloomgren has rarely found a moment to catch his breath.
While the rest of the nation may be shifting gears to summer mode, Bloomgren and staff are in the midst of a crucial 10-day window allowed by the NCAA to give them personal interaction with the next generation of high school football talent.
In addition to hosting several position specific camps this weekend at Rice Stadium, Owls coaches have been burning up the miles to participate in camps around the country.
"The NCAA gives us 10 days to participate in camps and we are going to maximize the opportunity to be able to kick the tires and evaluate these players," Bloomgren said. "You have the chance to work with them and see how they respond to coaching and in my case, this is one of the only chances when I can get out and see them in person."
Summer camp season was always an essential component in the annual pursuit of future talent by college football coaches but recent changes to both the recruiting calendar and the structure of camps has increased the importance and opened up additional opportunities.
The NCAA now limits a school to holding camps on their own campus, which has created an opportunity for schools to work together by hosting members of other staffs for their camps. Adidas and other apparel providers also sponsor camps around the country, staffed by coaches from schools who partner with the brand.
The introduction of an early signing period last December and Bloomgren's goal to recruit nationally, translate into a far more expansive effort to participate in these camps.
When camp season ends, Bloomgren's staff will have been to camps at Kennesaw State, Northwestern, Mercer, TCU, Texas A&M, Trinity, Stanford and Vanderbilt.
"It's been a very targeted approach, Bloomgren said. "With our adidas relationship, we have the ability to work the Three Stripe Camps, so we had someone in Atlanta because there were a few kids there on our radar. Working camps at Vanderbilt, Stanford and Northwestern was a no-brainer because kids would not go to those camps unless they were good students who were looking for what we have to offer."
Friday found Bloomgren in Fort Worth for a camp at TCU, followed by an immediate return to for the weekend camps at Rice. Buoyed by the response of area coaches during spring drills, he looks forward to what the weekend offers.
"One of the things that really stood out to me was the number of high school coaches and players we had visiting in the spring. It was awesome to have them out there each day. I can't wait to see what the turnout will be this weekend."
Camp season is also traditionally the time for a wave of commitments from recruits, but Bloomgren's focus is not on a tally board over the next few weeks.
"The clock is ticking and things are moving quickly, but I won't be stressed at all by our commitment number right now," Bloomgren stated. "I know how quickly we closed so many kids last winter. I am also really excited about some of the potential graduate transfers we've been talking to. We want to build this program the right way and develop players, but these are players who can come in had help us now."