B.J. Payne has grand visions for the future of his All-American football camp. But for now, the Hilton Head Island High School football coach is only interested in the early success of his reinvented project.
"It's a one-of-a-kind type camp," he said. "The opportunity for kids in the area to come out and get coached up by college players. ... They don't run across that opportunity every day."
Payne's camp steadily flourished over a seven-year period while the coach manned the sidelines at Lexington High School in Ohio. He hopes for similar success in the Lowcountry, as the camp gets underway for the first time at Hilton Head High this weekend.
The three-day event begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday and continues Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to noon. It is open to girls and boys in kindergarten through eighth grade, and students can register at the Island Rec Center all the way up until the event begins. The cost is $85 and includes a T-shirt with registration.
Once there, students will receive position-specific training from eight current and former college players. They will participate in an ultimate football challenge and a punt-pass-kick competition. Each student will receive an opportunity to play every position on the field, Payne said.
"We do it that way because people transition, their bodies change," he said. " ... It gives them an opportunity to work on football skills with guys of high caliber on a day where maybe they're not working on football."
Many of Payne's former players will take part in the event, as will South Carolina cornerback and former Beaufort High standout Jimmy Legree. He signed up after Payne reached out to the university earlier this year.
"Jimmy was right on it," Payne said. "I talked to him on the phone and he wanted to come back and have an opportunity to give back to the area."
Michigan standouts Courtney Avery and Jibreel Black will also participate, as will Ohio State's Devin Smith. Buffalo's Collin Michael, Purdue linebackers coach Marcus Freeman, Bernard Reedy of Toledo and Bob Johnson, formerly of the Detroit Lions, will also be present.
Many of them helped out at Payne's camp in Ohio, where it eventually grew into a two-week event across separate locations with upwards of 700 kids attending. He hopes to eventually receive the same type of interest in Beaufort County, and took the first step by opening it to students across all school districts.
"So many times we get caught up in straight wins and losses that we don't worry about the game," he said. "That's something you have to do. You have to make it fun and you have to give the kids something to be excited about."
All-American Football Camp
What: Three-day event for boys and girls in kindergarten through eighth grade. Current and former college standouts will lead players through position specific drills. Students will also participate in a punt-pass-kick competition and an ultimate football challenge.
When: Friday, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
Where: Hilton Head Island High School football practice field
Registration: Students can register at the Island Rec Center at 20 Wilborn Road or at islandreccenter.org. Cost is $85.