Blue Springs High’s Daniel Parker Jr. was hard to miss Tuesday during Missouri’s Elite Prospect Camp III at Park Hill High.
Parker sported lustrous gold shoes, which lit up under the beating June sun, and also shined during drills under the watchful eye of the Tigers’ new coaching staff led by Barry Odom, who was in town for a much-ballyhooed “satellite camp.”
Southeastern Conference schools are allowed to conduct off-campus camps for the first time after the NCAA Board of Directors declined to ban the practice of guest coaching appearances and the conference lifted restrictions barring the practice.
There was, however, no hint of the circus that tags along during Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s Swarm Tour II — a 39-camp excursion through 22 states and three countries, including American Samoa and Australia.
The future of such camps remains uncertain with the NCAA undertaking a “broad assessment of the FBS recruiting environment” that includes the issue of satellite camps.
Parker, a rising junior who played offensive tackle for the Wildcats last season but expects to settle in as a defensive end or two-way standout beginning this fall, hopes the practice doesn’t go away entirely.
“I hope they stay here, because it gives me more opportunities,” Parker said. “My parents really don’t have a lot of money, so it helps not to have to travel so far. We can come 30 minutes here and I can show the coaches what I’ve been working on and the skills that I possess.”
Parker already went to a camp at Kansas State, will attend the Michigan camp with Jim Harbaugh on June 15 at Blue Springs South and is scheduled to attend camps at Illinois, Iowa State and Nebraska.
Park Hill defensive end Chester Graves is the kind of player college programs from coast to coast will go out of their way to find.
He’s widely regarded as the top prospect in Missouri and is ranked No. 218 nationally by Rivals recruiting service, but he also appreciated the chance to work out at a camp in his backyard.
“It felt like practice, because we had so many kids from Park Hill here,” Graves said. “We were basically just running around with each other. At one point in time, there were 10 athletes in line and I didn’t see anybody else from any other team.”
That made the Park Hill, which had roughly 200 participants, fun more than anything.
Mizzou’s camp — which also drew coaches from Missouri State, South Dakota State, MidAmerica Nazarene, Missouri S&T, Illinois State, Lincoln University from Jefferson City, Lindenwood, Missouri Valley, Peru State and Washburn — wasn’t one of the mega camps, which accounts for the toned-down atmosphere.
Park Hill coach Josh Hood said the chance to compete against other elite players from metropolitan Kansas City and receive college-level instruction was a major draw.
He estimates that perhaps as many as eight current Trojans could wind up playing NCAA Division I football, but he encouraged any interested players to attend the camp, which cost $25.
“Even after they get their offers, we stress that they need to come out, compete and just have fun,” Hood said. “These kids love football, so they’ll get to as many of those camps as we can.”
Lee’s Summit coach Eric Thomas, who attended to watch the four players he had participating in the camp, also is a proponent of the camps.
“Our kids that have the aspiration to play college football, it’s easy access for them,” he said. “It’s not necessarily for the MU staff to see them, because not everyone’s going to play at that level. But having all these other staffs out here and looking at kids is a big deal.”