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June 17, 2014

Drawing attention

VSU holding mini-camps across the state

VALDOSTA — For the past two weeks, the Valdosta State football coaching staff has been criss-crossing the state.

The Blazers’ coaches have been racking up the miles with a two-pronged purpose: sell their university while at the same time, hoping to find some future talent.

The VSU road show — the Valdosta State mini-camps — returned home Monday for the two-hour clinic at the VSU Field House before wrapping up its summer today at North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Fla.

“The big thing is the promotion of Valdosta State,” VSU coach David Dean said following Monday’s event, where the VSU coaching staff worked with nearly 50 high school athletes, where the basic fundamentals of the Blazers’ offense and defense were taught to each position as well as some 1-on-1 drills.

That opportunity to sell VSU and the Blazer program has led Dean and his staff to Columbus, Atlanta, Forsyth in middle Georgia as well as Jacksonville, Fla. But while trying to attract attention, Dean and VSU are also hoping their eyes are caught as well.

“All the different places that we’ve been from the east part of the state to the west part of the state and then up in the Atlanta area and now Jacksonville and Tallahassee is where we’ll all be,” Dean said. “Our coaches do a great job of promoting Valdosta State, and it gives us a chance, obviously, to watch a lot of kids.

“Not only seniors, but also younger kids and be able to evaluate them and see if this guy’s someone we can look at in the future.

“We’ve had a lot of guys that have turned our heads. Some guys that maybe we had questions on, that we probably saw film on during the spring, but having the opportunity to work with them 1-on-1 sets them in a different level now. We know their work ethic and we’ve seen how they move. We’ll be watching those guys a lot closer now during the fall and their season.”

It has happened before. On national signing day in February, Dean talked about the impression that Thomas County Central’s Malcolm McClenton had made through attending VSU’s camps for several years. That impression, along with the development of McClenton at a new position as a senior last fall, led to a scholarship and a signing.

“That’s so invaluable,” Dean added. “You can watch guys play, and everybody plays hard on Friday nights. But when you have an opportunity to work with them in a camp and see them take coaching, and absorb that type thing and learn and correct mistakes that they’re making and the coaches are telling them, but mostly just seeing their work ethic. Seeing them work and seeing them move, that is just invaluable because you never get an opportunity to see that.”

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