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All Alaska Football Camp wraps up with a sunny showcase

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 11:15 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - College football coaches from around the country and high school football players from around the state came together for the 29th annual All Alaska Football Camp.

The first three days of the camp took place with four teams: South Anchorage High School, West Anchorage High School, Soldotna High School and the Renegade team made up of other players from around the state. The team setting gave the more than 15 college coaches in attendance something to really take a look at.

“For all of us college coaches it is a great opportunity to be around them in a team setting around their teammates and to really find out, how are they ... a leader?” said Marcus Klund, assistant football coach of Southwest Baptist University.

Klund said the camp is unique in that the recruiting coaches not only get to see the players’ individual skills, but how they interact with their teammates and their high school coaches. The camp is also the rare time that college coaches will come to the players instead of the other way around. It’s extremely rare in the 49th state.

“In this day and age of recruiting there’s really two parts of the equation. Number one is film, then you go see guys at camps,” said Karson Pike, offensive coordinator for Bemidji State University. “If those two things match up, you feel confident in recruiting that kid.”

The camp also brought out Dimond High School alumnus Chris Kuper. He played eight seasons in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and now he is the assistant offensive line coach for the team as well. Kuper said it is a joy for him to come back and help out players that are in the same position he was in growing up in Alaska.

The camp is also an opportunity for Kuper to work on his coaching craft.

“It is good for me to practice coaching because now I am talking to kids that haven’t’ heard the things that I am expecting them to know,” Kuper said. ”So now you have to find a way to teach it differently because it is a high school kid and not a college kid.”

The camp would normally have 30 or more college coaches in attendance, but is paired down a bit this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the messages from the coaches still ring clear. One athlete said that “move your feet” is now ingrained in his mind.

The words from coaches who are actively recruiting players can be used as fuel for the seniors going into their final football season, like Slade Schuster of South Anchorage High School.

“A coach told me that they want me to come play for them at their school, so that kind of warmed my heart, got me excited,” the quarterback said.

This is the first time in the history of the camp that it has been held in Anchorage. It is typically held in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the camp was not allowed to house the players overnight or serve food, so West Anchorage High School worked as the camps hub this year.

The camp will also be traveling to Fairbanks July 7-9 for the first time as well. Camp Director Randy Klingenmeyer said they are trying to get to all of the population centers to accommodate the athletes and give them the best instruction possible.

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