The NextGen All America Camp Series will see big changes in 2019
After the huge success of THE SHOW last month, NextGen founder Brent Williams talked with 247Sports about the past, present and future of one of top exposure camp series for high school and youth football players.
Ed O'Brien: How much has the NextGen AA camp series grown since you originally started it a few years ago? Brent Williams: The growth we have had over the past four years is amazing. Our first year we evaluated just over 800 athletes. This year, we had over 2,500 athletes attend our camps. In our four years, more than 700 division 1 offers have been made to kids who have attended our camps.
Our two biggest partnerships with TB12 (Tom Brady's Foundation and Company) and Battle Sports Science have provided a platform for growth. It has allowed us to evaluate more kids and improve the NextGen/The SHOW camp experience. Furthermore, partners like Big Game Balls, Team Issue, NCSA, GameBreaker Helmets, and Vicis Helmets have provided access to the "best (products/services) for the best athletes".
Most importantly NextGen/The SHOW will NEVER be a camp for the "best players who can AFFORD to attend". We are simply looking for the BEST PLAYERS!
Ed O'Brien: In regards to THE SHOW, talk about how that has grown in the past couple of years? Brent Williams: Three years ago we wanted to put together a feature showcase event that would allow all of the major recruiting media sites to come (to one spot) and see the next generation of great football players. In our first year, seven percent of the athletes attending held D1 offers. At last year's SHOW, nine percent of the attendees held a D1 offer. This year was the best by far - almost 20% of the attendees held offers. More importantly, athletes who have attended The SHOW have received more than 30 offers since the event took place.
We realize that we are NOT the only reason that kids who attend our events receive offers - but we recognize that we play a role in providing exposure. When an elite program like Auburn reaches out to us and invites some of the elite players from The SHOW to do an unofficial visit - it validates what we are doing.
Ed O'Brien: You've mentioned that you will be leaving 6th graders out of the camps for now on, what are some of the reasons for that? Brent Williams: Because of the demand for access to elite players by our media and scouting partners. We have decided to add Sophomores to our events in 2019. There really isn't a major national showcase for Sophomores. Of course, some 10th graders are invited to The Opening, UA 50 or the Adidas Five Star Challenge - but the majority of elite Sophomores need a place to compete and showcase their skills.
As for the 6th graders - we have decided to give them another year before inviting them to The SHOW. We struggle to find (enough) elite level 6th graders to allow them to compete fairly. The physical developmental difference between 6th graders and 7th graders is too much for most to handle. Now I won't say "never" - as we pride ourselves on finding "FREAKS" early.
The move to add Super Soph's is more about providing opportunities for our media partners and scouting partners (XOS Digital) the opportunity to get and/or keep this group on the radar of college programs.
Ed O'Brien: How do you think that change will improve the overall product? Brent Williams: Adding Super Soph's will draw more attention to our events, thus providing more exposure for all of the athletes attending. It's easy for me to focus on the kids who attend with offers and accolades, but our camp is also for structured for a kid like ROBBY ASHFORD who came to The SHOW two years ago as an unknown. In fact, he was the LAST Quarterback offered a spot to attend that year's event. Robby just received his 15th offer and is the poster child for what The SHOW and our exposure platform are about.
Ed O'Brien: Why is NextGen AA the best camp for football players to attend? Brent Williams: I (refuse.) to speak negatively about other camps, I can only speak for what we do. We have worked really hard over the past 5 years to build strong relationships that allow us to live up to our core mission, "Changing Lives One Athlete at a Time." We identify elite players and provide a platform for them to gain exposure.
We have grown each year, and added strategic partners. Adding a partnership like XOS Digital this past season was a real game changer for us. Their scouting, evaluating and access to college programs enhances what we do.
Lastly, our relationship with you (Ed O'Brien) will further separate our camp experience and exposure platform from other camps. The 2019 class will be our first signing class - and it's amazing to see the number of top players ranked in 247 Sports who attended our events at some point during their development. Your coverage of The SHOW gave you early access to the classes of 2021 and 2022.
*NextGen will add sophomores to the mix. Sixth graders will be phased out. The camp series and The Show will feature 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th graders in 2019.
*Ed O'Brien of 247Sports will be the Director of Recruiting Media. Media coverage of NextGen camps and THE SHOW will be exclusive to Ed O'Brien of 247Sports.
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