If you're a high school football senior hopeful of a college scholarship, mid-July is halftime.
Football season is more than a month away. But summer football camps have come and gone.
You can't ignore the rise to prominence of summer camps in the evaluation process. They are as obvious as all the scholarship offers that often follow posthaste.
There is football life after a bad camp, though.
"We've all made mistakes by getting too excited about a guy at camp and also getting too down on them," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said Friday.
"Amen to the latter," most high school football coaches would say. So would Farragut High School's Jonathan King.
King was one of the local players who joined area coaches at Three Ridges Golf Course on Friday for the Knoxville Football Officials Association high school media day. He candidly assessed his less-than-dazzling performance at UT's summer camp.
"I just didn't perform at a level a school like UT is looking for," said King, who, on most days, excels as both a placekicker and punter. "That's why I was disappointed."
He rarely has disappointed on Friday nights, which might explain why he feels so relaxed in a game environment. Camps are drastically different.
"There are guys who are great at drills," Hardin Valley coach Wes Jones said. "They can train for drills. They can do all that stuff (at camp).
"But the biggest indicator of what a player can do is the game on Friday night."
Catholic High School coach Scott Meadows remembers a player whom he described as "a great camp quarterback."
"He got some scholarship offers (out of his camp performances), but I didn't see it — because I saw what he did in a game," Meadows said. "If I were a college coach, I would want to evaluate them in camp, but I would want to see game film."
Meadows doesn't confuse game tape with highlight videos, pointing out that "anybody can look good in a highlight package."
Just to make sure he doesn't mislead anyone, Meadows doesn't send out
only highlight packages of his players to colleges. He also includes full game tapes.
Jones said he might send out highlight tapes to generate interest in a player. If that gets a college program's attention, he follows up with more telling tape.
"If I'm evaluating kids, I want to see what they do in the fourth quarter when the play is away from them," Jones said. "I don't want to see what happens on a highlight tape."
Dooley appreciates the total picture, which begins to take focus with the accurate measurements — height, weight and speed — that a summer camp can provide.
"It also helps you determine a guy's makeup," Dooley said. "How does he handle tough coaching? What's his work ethic like? You can see that when you train a guy."
But you can see it even better on Friday nights in the fall.