Upon arrival at Helix Charter High School in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa, California this past Sunday, the sun was already shining and glistening at 6:00am. The former home of Alex Smith, Reggie Bush, Chuck Cecil and numerous other NFL alumni was getting set to play host to CAMP presented by HUB Football in search of the next wave of pro football prospects looking to make their name known.
HUB Football’s CAMP program has created a pathway for premier football free agent players to find their way into the National Football League. With NFL rookie tryouts limited to just five players per team in 2021, in addition to the cost associated with NFLPA safety protocols, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create hardships for unsigned players to receive a legitimate opportunity.
On this day, five NFL teams (some with multiple scouts), two CFL teams, and several independent scouts with prominent ties to both leagues would attend CAMP, which has seen 45 of its 241 participants sign pro contracts since its inception.
The hand-picked roster, selected by HUB Football’s scouting department that consists of current and former pro scouts, featured 61 players, including 30 of whom boasted previous NFL experience and one other, tight end Connor Davis, who signed with the Cleveland Browns a few days prior to the event.
Attendees ranged from Super Bowl Champion linebacker Brandon Marshall to other veterans like linebacker Korey Toomer and cornerback Bene Benwikere. They each sought to prove to scouts that they can be valuable assets, along with a host of rookies who found themselves bypassed following the recent NFL Draft.
That was the case for hybrid pass-rusher Ethan Tucky of Cincinnati. After an impressive pro day workout in March, timing 4.62 in the forty-yard dash, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Tucky was overlooked and in need of another opportunity to compete in front of NFL decision-makers.
“I’ve been here for five hours, but it’s been five hours of good work,” Tucky stated when asked about his HUB Football experience. “I’m learning, talking to coaches, comparing myself to players and I know I can do this. Anyone here can do this and keep going if they believe in themselves.”
The aforementioned Toomer noted how valuable this type of platform can be for more experienced players coming off of an injury or in search of one more look.
“The CAMP was amazing,” he said. “The turnout was great and this was beneficial for veteran players like myself. I think this will become a new up-and-coming solution. Anyone looking to play needs to come to CAMP and give it a shot because it’s great. It’s worth it.”
A former member of the Indianapolis Colts, offensive lineman Nick Callender ruptured his Achilles at his pro day workout prior to the 2018 NFL Draft. He struggled to stick on the 53-man roster coming off the injury and bounced around independent leagues such as the AAF, the XFL and The Spring League in hopes of being recognized.
Currently 100% healthy, Callender was arguably the most impressive player in attendance, measuring in at 6-foot-6 and 334 pounds, while lining up at offensive tackle during the workout. His power, agility, and most importantly, his conditioning, were all showcased and captured on film by the four cameras on-field. All footage is sent to the 700-plus front office personnel and scouts for all 32 NFL teams immediately following the event.
Another player of note who attended Sunday’s CAMP was Juantarius Bryant, a defensive back who was the recent victim of a horrific prank that led to his showing up to the Atlanta Falcons facility based on a false invitation to participate in their rookie mini-camp. Because of someone’s dubious ways, Bryant never actually made it inside the Falcons’ training center in Flowery Branch, Georgia, but he was grateful for the invitation to CAMP, which helped fulfill his desire to perform in front of NFL teams.
“The CAMP was a great opportunity and experience for me, and I’m sure I’m not just speaking for myself when I say that,” Bryant stated after the workout. “I most definitely believe this is a great opportunity for free agents to showcase their skills in front of NFL scouts.”
Not so well-known prior to CAMP was journeyman wide out Jordan Veasy. While the lengthy, strong-framed receiver, who played collegiately at California had signed with six different NFL teams, he had yet to earn his keep on an active 53-man roster. That could change soon.
His talent was on full display, as Veasy turned in one of the more notable performances, including a highly impressive one-handed catch in the back of the end zone, flashing his ability to play above the rim in traffic and drawing quite a few raises of the eyebrows amongst the scouts in attendance.
File the name, as Veasy was a hot commodity and would later make the rounds with all the evaluators on-site after CAMP.
Sunday’s CAMP presented by HUB Football also featured two international participants in British Columbia product Malcolm Lee and South Africa rugby star Lloyd Greeff. After showing unbelievable leg strength at a combine held in Africa, Greef generated interest from several NFL organizations.
After months of trying to gain access across the border during the pandemic, he finally arrived in the United States and had a chance to show off his thunderous leg with a handful of booming punts. While initially thought to be viewed as a punter/kicker type, Greef wowed HUB Football special teams coach Nick Novak with his ability to long-snap.
“For someone who has had zero hands-on coaching, his raw talent is fascinating," coach Novak informed NFL Draft Bible. "If he can be taught the proper technique, Greef has the potential to develop into an NFL punter, kicker or possibly even a long snapper who can contribute at tight end.”
With intrigue surrounding his size and athleticism, his next step will be to return home and begin training as a tight end/long snapper so that he can apply for admittance into the NFL Pathway Program. Greef is scheduled to participate in front of NFL International scouts later this summer back home in South Africa at a showcase hosted by Worldwide Scholarships.
The movement that is CAMP presented by HUB Football continues to grow with each event, both nationally and globally. Be sure to visit HUBFootball.com for more info and upcoming dates. The next CAMP is scheduled to be held in mid-July back in San Diego. Interested parties who wish to attend can register online.
Stay tuned for more exclusive coverage of HUB Football on www.SI.com/nfl/draft and be on the lookout for more HUB alumni signing NFL contracts in the upcoming weeks and months leading up to training camp!