Coaches take team camps seriously

Northwestern offensive line coach Adam Cushing recently shared one of his favorite stories about recruiting. He said that when he went on his first interview for a college coaching position there was a sign on the wall of the head coach's office that read, "Recruiting is like shaving. You have to do it every day, or pretty soon you'll end up looking like a bum."

The spring evaluation period -- one of the most critical times of the recruiting cycle -- wraps up on Friday, and focus shifts to team camps, when college coaches will invite to campus the prospects they are most interested in seeing work out.

Like shaving, the team camp season is one of the most overlooked, but important, parts of the process for high school prospects and college staffs. For recruits, team camps aren't the ones in which you sit around a fire and learn to tie knots. Simply put, they're tryouts. Recruiters from every part of the country can tell tales about upper-tier players they wanted to offer scholarships to, but the recruits failed to understand their purpose at camp and didn't perform at their highest levels.

"Camp is a great opportunity to coach prospects and find out what kind of character, work ethic and toughness they have in person," one Big Ten recruiting coordinator said. "If they can't look significantly better than the guys that just show up because they're there to have fun, then maybe they're not the right guy for us."

For countless players on the Division I bubble, campus camps over the next two months will make or break them. Camps can be life-altering opportunities, if they're taken seriously.

For coaches, it's an opportunity to earn some additional income, because let's face it, most of the week of summer camp is spent trying to wrangle in the youngest of fans whose parents pay for them to come and hang out on the field. But most notably, it's a chance to see several prospects who are on the fence for an offer. Coaches will use the opportunity to run the prospects through the ringer to see if they indeed have what it takes to play at their school.

As with every phase of the recruiting cycle, some programs are in better shape than others as we transition to summer.