The Top Gun camp, which runs from July 23-25, brings together over 1,000 athletes representing the top 10 percent of performers from 40 regional camps around the country each year, based on physical and performance-based benchmarks. In his first time attending FBU, Page graded out as one of the top performers.
“I was pretty excited about it,” Page said of his selection. “My hopes weren’t extremely high for the Top Gun Camp, but as soon as I got invited, I tried to keep my composure.”
Page played linebacker at the camp but filled many roles for the seventh-grade Sprayberry Jr. Jackets last fall, contributing primarily at defensive end. He finished with 12 sacks, six forced fumbles, an interception and scored two defensive touchdowns as the Jr. Jackets went 9-3 and reached the second round of the Georgia Middle School Athletic Association playoffs last season. The regional camp gave him an early look at the other high-caliber athletes his age around the state.
“The competition was very fierce,” he said. “It was more precise and more technical than any team that I had faced in the regular season while I was playing in my league.”
The invitation-only regional camp welcomed players aged from sixth grade to high school to Duluth for three days of position-specific coaching. The athletes participated in classroom instruction sessions and on-field training and agility drills as well as 7-on-7 sessions. Players were also assigned playbooks for the 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 drills to take home and study for the following day of camp, which for Page was a new challenge in preparation that he had not faced on his football teams before.
“Our team (last fall) didn’t give us a playbook, they just told us plays and we just had to memorize them,” he said.
This year, Top Gun athletes will be split into separate High School and Youth camps for the first time to address the event’s growth in its fifth year of existence. Under the instruction of more than 50 former NFL and collegiate coaches and players, participants receive classroom and on-field instruction and the opportunity to hone proper technique against other highly-regarded campers. Former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Sam Wyche is the head instructor for the 2012 Top Gun event.
Page’s linebackers coach for the regional camp was Quentin Coryatt, a second team All-American linebacker at Texas A&M and the second-overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1992 NFL Draft. While Page felt good about using his speed and his 6-1 frame to cover ground on defense, Coryatt told him he could be using his physical gifts more efficiently to maximize his value at linebacker.
“A lot of players would say that their weapons are their shoulder pads,” Page said. “For a guy as lengthy as me, my real weapons are my hands, and I can use them more than I already am.”
Page hopes to build on Coryatt’s instructions and improve his agility and flexibility ahead of his trip to Williamsburg, where he will test his skills against a nationwide collection of talent on a much larger stage.