Football players seek opportunity at FAMU’s 7-on-7 tournament
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Willie Simmons was making the rounds during his first 7-on-7 football tournament for high school players when a coach approached him.
He wanted to make sure that Simmons know Samuel Smith, a recent graduate from John Paul School, has interest in attending FAMU. He hopes to walk on to the football team, too.
Simmons assured the coach he’d do what he can to get the receiver on campus. And, give him a shot as a walk-on.
Players like Smith, who wasn’t recruited coming out of JP, could be a great addition to his program, Simmons said.
“There are a lot of great football players who walk in the halls; a lot of guys who played high school football and maybe thought they didn’t want to play college football,” Simmons said. “They get here and get the itch again and want the opportunity to play again.”
If Smith is accepted at FAMU he will join other walk-ons for a tryout before the season begins, Simmons said.
“Right now I’m just praying and hoping that everything is going to go well,” Smith said. “I’m just ready and waiting to get out there to prove myself.”
Meanwhile, the Saturday morning 7-on-7 was mostly about high school players who will suit up in the fall. Six teams participated in the competition. It didn’t matter the programs size.
FAMU High, a 2A program, was right there competing with the bigger programs. They relished the opportunity, said coach Cedrick Jones.
“The advantage for us is we get to play at higher competition,” Jones said. “They love it because they think they could beat the world. We don’t back down from anything.”
Ahmad Levy, a rising senior from Jacksonville’s Andrew Jackson High School was there for the same reason that many of the players showed up.
“It’s exposure,” he said. “All the coaches are looking at you so you have to come here and play ball. We come to see how we stack up with everybody else.”
Chiles junior Mike Plaeas was there for hardly an hour when he got news that his senior counterparts hope they’ll hear next signing day. Simmons offered him a scholarship to become a Rattler. However, Plaeas said he’ll be considering offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
He didn’t seem to mind having to make a decision that’s usually a bit heady for most players.
“I like it because it shows that hard work pays off,” he said.
Many of the teams will spend the rest of the summer traveling to other camps. Chiles, for example, will spend a week touring camps in the Carolinas, said coach Kevin Pettis.
For good reason.
“People use all kinds of crazy formations (on offense) so it gives you a chance to adjust,” he said. “By Friday nights, they would have seen every formation by the time they get to the ball. There is really no substitute for seeing it live so when they get to the fall they’ll already know it.”