TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
The day the wannabes
starred... and stumbled
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Fantasy camp turned out to be more like boot camp. East Carolina head
coach Ruffin McNeill hosted his first “Fantasy Camp” on Friday afternoon
and about 50 of us found out what it was like to be a Pirate football
player for a day. Obviously, the drills were trimmed down but the day's
intense heat evened the playing field.
Several of my media brethren took part in the camp as well. I am proud
to say that I hung tough and lasted longer than all of them with the
exception of WITN’s Billy Weaver, who won our mythical media award for
Our day started with strength coach Jeff Connors “stretching” out the
group. I was feeling those stretches the rest of the afternoon. Many in
the group, myself included, were ready for a break after stretching!
Defense was next. The defensive coaches put us in four groups. We got to
see firsthand what the lineman, the linebackers and the defensive backs
go through. Footwork was stressed, and positioning of the head and the
hips seemed vital.
I have watched the linebackers go through a drill in which they give a
hand slap to a dummy, go to the opposite side for the same, and so
forth. It really is an easy drill, but somehow I fell over the dummies
not once, but twice. So this dummy decided to take it out on the
practice dummy. You can see the video
here on YouTube.
Bailey vs. the tackling dummy on YouTube.
When you stop laughing you can finish the column. It was the highlight
of my day for sure.
The second hour of the morning session was on offense. We each got the
chance to play quarterback, run routes and participate in the same
drills Lincoln Riley’s players do each and every day at practice.
My favorite quarterback drill at practice is when the four quarterbacks
line up and four receivers run precise routes. Riley says the group will
throw 250-300 passes in the drill. He says if the ball hits the ground
more than once or twice during the drill, then it’s been a bad day.
The ball dropped a bunch at fantasy camp.
Still, there was something about dropping back and firing a completed
pass that put a smile on my face.
Lunch was next. Most of us went for the water and Gatorade type drinks
over the chicken nuggets.
The afternoon opened with another visit with Coach Connors. Connors
split the group in two. My group went through a series of short sprints,
trying to learn how to “burst” into a sprint. Connors said we would use
our knew knowledge on the stadium stairs. I thought he was joking.
The other group worked with kettle bells, and then we switched up.
Connors was serious about the stadium stairs. Several of us decided that
might be a bad idea, but give the group credit because most of the guys
did the stadium stairs and worked with Coach Connors in the famed “sand
The afternoon continued in the film room.
On offense, Coach Riley showed us a series of successful big plays over
the last couple of seasons. He talked to us about formations and what to
look for this season from the Pirate offense.
On defense, we were spit into groups for the film session. I was in with
Coach Mark Yellock, who gave us some in-depth information on the
defensive line. He showed us some of the same drills with his players
that he worked with us on in the morning.
Finally, with all of this newly-found information, we hit the field to
actually run some plays on both offense and defense.
I really enjoyed calling the play as the quarterback. I even completed
my second pass!
The day wrapped up with a scrimmage, a game they called “air ball” and
renamed “pirate ball.” It was eight on eight in a rugby type of passing
game that I think most of us enjoyed.
It was a long, tiring day but a day I will never forget. I’m fortunate
enough to know the assistant coaches through my work on television,
radio and writing this column. For many of the campers, it was basically
their first interaction with the staff, and I know they came away most
Thanks Coach Ruff and the Pirate coaching staff for a great day of
Now we’ll turn it over to the real Pirates for real football.
E-mail Brian Bailey.
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07/31/2012 03:09 AM