In its first season as a new series of regional camps for elite athletes, the invitation-only Rivals camp is geared toward current juniors, but sophomores and freshmen are eligible, according to the website.
The Marietta regional, which will be comprised of players from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina, is the eighth of 15 stops in the series. Previous camps have been held in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami, among other cities.
Top performers from the camps could qualify for a position in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge in June, and top underclassmen could qualify for a spot at July’s Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge in Dallas.
“This is an invitation-only event for FBS-caliber players from the junior and sophomore classes, as well as some freshmen,” said Mike Farrell, a senior national recruiting analyst for Rivals. “We sent out about 300 invitations, and the response has been overwhelmingly great.
“We think we’ll have anywhere from 200 to 225 athletes participating. High school coaches can watch, as well as parents and relatives of the players, but no college coaches are allowed, per NCAA rules.”
One of the most well-known national recruiting services, Rivals decided to host its own camps to have more control over its products.
“We wanted to have more control over our own destiny, so to speak,” Farrell said. “We wanted something that was just ours instead of using video and interviews from other camps. We came up with the idea to host our own camps a few years ago. This helps us scout players in person and get the interviews we need to go with them.”
During Sunday’s camp, players will participate in agility and position drills, along with having 1-on-1 competitions with other elite players.
“Kids want to come and compete against the best, and that’s what we’re offering,” Farrell said. “The response has been great for our first year. We’re happy with the turnout, and the (Marietta) camp, so far, is set to be the best with the number of elite athletes expected to show up.”
Local players expected to attend include Walton quarterback Price Wilson and defensive back D.J. Smith, Marietta linebacker Tyrell Tomlin and Lassiter cornerback Christopher Murphy.
“This is a great way for players to attract attention for themselves from schools around the country,” Farrell said. “They’ll be competing against the best players from their region and get coached by some of the finest and most respected coaches in the industry. The camp is a great way for a player to get exposure or to get discovered, or to even improve their ranking on the Rivals.com recruiting list.”
Marietta was chosen as the location for the regional because of Farrell’s relationship to Blue Devils coach Scott Burton, whom he has known for over a decade.
“We’ve known each other for years,” Farrell said. “Scott’s been great. I can’t even begin to express how important he’s been to this process. You can’t find a better coach to help us.
“Plus, the location is perfect. We don’t have to deal with too much traffic with all of the events going on downtown, and Marietta is a school with two fields, which is also helpful.”