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Why 7-on-7 Tournaments Benefit LSU Football Recruits

7-on-7 becoming a valued part of the recruiting process

If you follow college football recruiting, you probably know about 7-on-7 football. It’s more than just a weekend activity for kids and teenagers, as it’s also a way college football programs evaluate top talent.

There’s a mix that’s happening; college programs are watching film from events where the age groups range from 10 and under competition all the way up to 18 and under competition. No, this is not youth baseball.

Welcome to the new age of football and it’s changing America, college football included. Before delving into this discussion any further, know that college football evaluations start and end with traditional football. That’s not going to be replaced by 7-on-7 football or anything else.

With that said, 7-on-7 football allows for a specific type of evaluation, as well as a blend of just your regular teenage football player playing on the same 7-on-7 football team as a five star recruit.

It’s a unique dynamic as major tournaments from around the country are created by various companies like NFA, Pylon and Championship 7v7, just to name three amongst numerous 7-on-7 football organizations.

These tournaments last two days, include large groups of pool play on Saturday, and usually end up with a single-elimination tournament on Sunday. Along the way, there are highlights galore, and that’s where the college recruiting comes into play.

There are no linemen, only quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, linebackers and defensive backs. It’s a passing theme, although some tournaments do allow a running back to advance the football. Once the games conclude, that’s when it gets interesting for recruits and college coaches alike.

The highlights are sent off to college coaches around the country, posted to social media sites, and shared amongst people around the United States and beyond. LSU included, college teams do watch this highlights as an extra way to evaluate prospects. Right in LSU’s backyard, the 7-on-7 football organization LA Bootleggers have incredible amounts of talent on their 7-on-7 football travel rosters. The Bootleggers are operated by Ryan Clark, a former LSU player and NFL player. It’s not just down South that 7-on-7 football thrives, however.

From California to Texas to Florida and up the East Coast, 7-on-7 football is as popular as it can be. So how do college coaches gain valuable recruiting information from these events?

Film does not lie

If a skill player possesses the necessary raw physical tools to shine on Saturdays in the SEC, they will come to fruition on the gridiron regardless if it is tackle football or 7-on-7 football. The ability to cut, jump, accelerate, anticipate a throw, make a contested catch or shake a defender does not really change if one does or does not have on pads.

While 7-on-7 football is quite different, the biggest part of the evaluation is simply the athleticism. It’s almost like a combine because the players are not padded up, but rather in basic team uniforms playing at a fast pace in a pass happy 7-on-7 football world.

Competitive Nature

One of the biggest attributes to the 7-on-7 football events around the country would be seeing who wants it more. Almost every game has a few highly contested one-on-one plays with wide receivers and defensive backs. That’s a great way for a college coaching staff to see who has the ‘it’ factor to be an alpha.

Some really talented players lose out to players with more heart, and that will be a part of an evaluation. When it’s third down and seven, and the LSU Tigers need to score on the next play, who’s going to want it more when the quarterback throws it up into the corner of the end zone?

That’s the definition of what 7-on-7 football is all about. It’s only a 40-yard field so there’s plenty of chances to make a scoring grab, which also means more impact play opportunities.

What Do Players Think of 7-on-7 Football?

I cover 7-on-7 football on a very consistent basis. It’s very serious for most players with aspirations to reach the college level. Some of them know that their schools do not garner the same attention as say a John Curtis or Edna Karr in the New Orleans area. Those players play their tails off to earn any glimpse of attention they can receive. Even big-time recruits in Louisiana have a sincere interest, but for different reasons.

According to LSU prospect Jacoby Matthews, "I didn't really get that much better by playing only quarterback. I feel like I'm still in good shape and what excites me the most is just to be out here with these guys."

Eli Holstein stated, "The benefit for me is I really get to work on my leadership skills, work on footwork. In 7-on-7 it's easy to let your footwork go out the door. Playing in tight situations, close games. I've played in a couple of overtime games with this. What I like about 7v7 is that I feel like my position on this team is to help receivers get offers."

Ethan Nation (2023) also commented by saying, "The atmosphere, adapting to different situations. I mean 7v7 is so much more different than real football. The trash talking and a lot of people are just playing freely, they're not really restricted."

Final Thoughts

There are numerous complexities to 7-on-7 football and how it impacts college football recruiting. Today was just the tip of the iceburg. It’s an interesting and complex way to look at football and scouting. Do note, 7-on-7 football is here to stay.

It’s not unusual for a tournament to host 100 to 125 teams for a weekend. That’s just one tournament. 7-on-7 football is blazing across America, and college coaches from LSU down to the smallest school in the FBS need to make sure they use the film to know which prospects stand out.

As this year moves along, look for more information about 7-on-7 football including a closer look into the LA Bootleggers (Louisiana), 229 7v7 (Georgia) Cam Newton (Georgia) and Tight Action (Florida), amongst many other 7-on-7 football organizations. There are several big-time recruits that LSU would love to land from these programs.