I watched my first Trojan camp on Saturday and Sunday. I think I’m relatively informed about Trojan football but high school player combines are new to me. I’m now partially retired so I have time to indulge myself with this kind of entertainment. This article is written mostly for those who don’t have time to attend Trojan camps or live so far away that they can’t. I’ve written it for readers who are as uninitiated to the genre as I was.
There is a lot of administrative detail at the beginning of the camp. It begins with registration and then testing for all those measurables that the recruiting system loves to discuss. After reading about all the elite athletes in the country for so may years, I had a false perspective on what to expect. It was a surprise to me how few of the participants, even at the Saturday skills camp, could run under a 4.8 40. It makes it special when someone, every now and then, has a 4.5. And a 4.4 is a major event. That athlete then gets a lot of attention.
Eventually they get into warm-ups and then break into groups and move onto teaching stations. As the day progresses, groups move from station to station where they are shown, and then practice, how Trojan coaches want each technique performed. It is not hard to pick out the top athletes from the want-a-bes. There is one elite group of high-performance seniors and those are the players that draw the biggest crowd. That crowd follows them from station to station.
At the end of the morning session and again at the end of the afternoon session, the one-on-one’s are held. I found those to be engrossing and some of the best drama I’ve seen all year. I’ve been turned off by most of professional sports because the players frequently look to me like they are just going through the motions. This is the opposite. Each of these players, especially in that elite group, was giving it his all. Some got beat pretty bad, but it wasn’t because they were not trying.
There are several high quality reports on the website about who excelled at the camp, who got offers, and who is in contention for future offers. I don’t intend to cover any of those subjects, but rather to share a little slice of human interest that caught my attention.
Horatio Alger was a 19th-century author who wrote dime novels with rags to riches plots. I love Horatio Alger type stories in real life especially when the hero has to overcome an obstacle. In that vein, I’ve always been engrossed with the story of how Coach O had to work so hard to get Mike Patterson a scholarship. As I recall the story, Coach O tried to get Paul Hackett to offer and he would not because Mike was just too short. When Paul went out, Pete kept Coach O and made him recruiting coordinator. Coach O talked Pete into overlooking the height issue and giving that scholarship to Mike Patterson. We all know the rest of the story.
Remember the name Sean Enesi from Carson high school. He is an offensive center and has the same liability that Mike Patterson has. He is too short. Our database lists him at 5-ll and 278. It boggles my mind to even contemplate anyone that short playing on our line, but let me tell you what I saw during the one-on-ones.
Coach Ruel lines up an offensive line with 5 across – tackles, guards and one center. Coach Holt lines up a defensive line – I think he uses 5 to make things even. A selected defensive lineman then tries to rush past the OL in front of him and hit the blocking bag 5 yards back, which represents the quarterback. The reason that all five linemen are lined up is to make sure that the rushing lineman stays within a realistic rush lane.
There is a lot of yelling, tremendous effort, and dozens of little victories and defeats. Everyone is sweaty, shirts are torn, and fatigue is setting in. I would say that the DL has the advantage since they get to the QB about 4 out of every 5 attempts. It is not always fair because the coaches are trying to see who can do what. New players are frequently substituted on both the OL and DL so everyone gets several chances.
They put D.J. Holt at DE against Martin Coleman several times. DJ runs 4.6 and is just too fast for an OT one on one, so Martin got beat. Da’John Harris is not only fast but he is strong to go with it. He beat the OL time and again. They kept moving him to different positions to see if anyone could block him. Michael Reardon won at both OL and DL.
While this organized pandemonium is going on, every so often an OL just stops a DL rusher cold. Stands them straight up. When that happens everyone, including the coaches applaud the successful effort. Most OL’s won a least once during the day, but a couple won several and one guy won almost all – Sean Enesi.
We’ve all heard about how our coaching style is build around competition. In this drill, it is the OL’s against the DL’s. So to end the day there is a competition between the two with coach Holt keeping score. When the defense wins a set of 5, the OL’s have to do push up’s and visa versa. Just before the final horn, the series is tied 2 and 2. Coach Holt announces a final set and everyone is yelling encouragement to their favorite player. Coach Ruel coaches the OL on his moves and coach Holt does the same with the DL. The first 4 end with a split of 2 for each – a lot of arbitrary judgments were used on who won what. Now it is the final for the whole enchilada. Who does coach Ruel pick for OL – Sean Enesi who none of us had ever head of 30 minutes before. Coach Holt picks Harris and I suspect tells him not to try to run over Enesi but around him. Da’John starts left and then circles right for a clear sack.
Maybe this story didn’t have a perfect Horatio Alger ending for Sean. But I can tell you that everyone I talked to expressed great admiration for what he showed on Brian Kennedy Field last Sunday. Maybe it is impractical to expect someone 5-11 to compete for an OL scholarship at our school. Maybe Sean had the best day he will ever have as an OL and my story is just so much hype. Or, maybe he could be another Mike Patterson type. I would sure like to find out. I hope he is invited to the Rising Senior camp in two weeks and I hope he can attend.
Regardless of how any of that turns out, here’s a “well done” from this Trojan to Sean Enesi and a sincere “Fight On” for success in your life.