PEMBROKE — All that Lumberton senior Jordan Hair is focusing on this summer is getting better by learning as much as he can on the gridiron.
On Friday afternoon, with the sweltering sun beating down at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke football practice field, the all-county defensive lineman for the Pirates was able to get instruction from college coaches at UNCP’s football camp for rising 10th through 12th graders.
“Anytime I can get any kind of coaching or any kind of help it means a lot to me,” Hair said. “I wanted to come out here and compete and do some drills.”
With the second dead week of the summer coming to an end on Sunday that kept high school football teams from holding organized practices, Hair got his wish. After a week away from any kind of practice, the itch of wanting to go out and compete was relieved for Hair at the camp.
“It’s been a while since I’ve done some drills, so I’m feeling good and trying to get warmed up (for the season),” he said. “It’s what I love and I’ll do anything to get better.”
Hair not only wanted to get out and get some drills under his belt during the off week, but also wanted to fine tune his game with evaluation from next level coaches.
“I’ve got to work on my rush from the outside and work on my hand placement and my feet,” Hair said. “The coaches helped with my handwork today and my pass rush.”
Led by coach Shane Richardson and his staff, the camp hosted 261 high school players from North and South Carolina, and a trio of players from Tampa, Fla. The camp not only allowed players to work on their technique through positional and 1-on-1 drills, but also was a way for the mentality of the program to be taught to prospective players.
“Any time you’re out on the field it just becomes natural for us to bring the structure and the philosophy that you coach to,” Richardson said. “As far as accountability, making sure they were doing things hard and kind of the normal formula for football success, we really tried to coach them hard on that stuff.”
That formula paid dividends this year with UNCP coming off its most successful season in program history on the field. The Braves won 10 games for the first time in school history and won a NCAA playoff game as well.
By teaching the program’s mentality to high school players, Richardson hopes that the messages, even if it was just one point, stuck with the players and will be contagious when they get back to practice.
“A lot of things that we gave them and I hope that one thing will kind of stick with them that they can say they feel gravitated to and can definitely take back to their team,” Richardson said. “It’s also just a great concept for us to help out the high school programs get better and better and give them three hours of coaching that will help their teams have better success this year.”
With more than 250 of the top athletes in the area all in one confined location, it allowed the UNCP staff a chance to evaluate the players on top of providing instruction. For many, it was the first step in the recruiting process of the local players.
“It’s a great evaluation tool for us,” Richardson said. “There’s a lot of kids that come out here that really jump out to us and we will go back as a coaching staff and debrief and see what kind of popped out to us.”