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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

The day the wannabes starred... and stumbled

By Brian Bailey
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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 the event.

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.

View Brian 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 pit.”

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 impressed.

Thanks Coach Ruff and the Pirate coaching staff for a great day of football.

Now we’ll turn it over to the real Pirates for real football.


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Brian Bailey Archives

07/31/2012 03:09 AM


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