College Football: U’s Kill gets on board with ‘satellite camps’

By Marcus R. Fuller St. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Doesn't "satellite camp" sound like something NASA would set up for kids to learn about space exploration? In this case, the term has nothing to do with stars -- at least not the ones abov...

By Marcus R. Fuller

St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Doesn’t “satellite camp” sound like something NASA would set up for kids to learn about space exploration?

In this case, the term has nothing to do with stars - at least not the ones above us. It’s a reference to the standout football players attending high school camps in areas outside of where college programs are allowed to host them.

An NCAA rule forbids schools from holding camps outside a 50-mile radius of their campus. But nothing stops coaching staffs, especially those from Power 5 conferences, from traveling beyond that distance to work as guests for other camps.


For the first time since he took over the University of Minnesota football team before the 2011 season, Jerry Kill is taking part in satellite camps, including one hosted by Emporia State on July 24 at Olathe North High School in Kansas.

Kill, a former Emporia State coach, will be able to get in front of several potential prospects from the Kansas City area.

“I think everybody’s different,” Kill said Wednesday on SiriusXM radio. “I know a couple teams tried them last year. I don’t think one of the schools didn’t gain a recruit out of the camp they did. But I think certainly you can get to other areas in the country. But you have to take care of your home state.

“We’ll jump in with some people. But just as far as going crazy with it, we still have to take care of the players in our own state and in our own region. We certainly will reach out as it’s convenient to the two-week window we have.”

Penn State coach James Franklin took heat from his peers for satellite camps as a recruiting tool at Vanderbilt. Alabama’s Nick Saban called it “ridiculous,” and Southeastern Conference coaches eventually asked their commissioner to ban attending such camps.

Franklin went to camps in SEC recruiting territory hosted by Georgia State and Stetson last year .

“You can work a camp; you just can’t run it,” Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo said. “The reason these places are willing to do this is because Georgia State gets to promote in Atlanta that they’re going to have James Franklin and the Penn State staff as part of the camp staff. If a recruit is getting letters from Penn State and being recruited by Penn State, he gets to drive an hour to see Franklin instead of going all the way to State College.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh also is putting the Big Ten at the forefront when it comes to satellite camps as the Wolverines are scheduled to attend nine of them from the South to California in June.


“It’s very advantageous because the more opportunities you get to evaluate prospects the better evaluation you’re going to be able to make,” Midwest recruiting expert Josh Helmholdt said. “You can get into areas where maybe kids can’t always come to their camps or meet them in person. So they’re able to get down there and have more interaction with them and show them a little love.”

Harbaugh received criticism for creating such an extensive satellite camp tour, so he invited college coaches from around the nation to attend his “Exposure U” camp June 14-17 in Ann Arbor.

The Detroit News reported Thursday that Big Ten head coaches from Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Rutgers, Purdue and Indiana declined through their department representatives to attend Harbaugh’s camp.

Kill joined coaches at Wisconsin, Northwestern and Nebraska as undecided, according to the story.

On Wednesday, Kill said he’d be “very surprised if we’ll be able to do (satellite camps) a year from now.”

But DiNardo doesn’t believe they will go away that quickly.

“If the Big Ten head coaches want to stop it, they’re crazy - they’re nuts,” he said. “It’s genius for coaches whether you’re a new coach or not. (Ohio State coach) Urban Meyer doesn’t need to do it, but he’ll be forced to do it because of Harbaugh and Franklin. Minnesota needs it. Nebraska needs it. Iowa needs it. Illinois needs it. Indiana needs it. Purdue needs it. But the haves really don’t need it.”

The SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference are the only major conferences to prohibit their coaches from taking part in satellite camps.


“Some coaches didn’t want to go out and do the extra travel, so they didn’t want anyone else to do it,” Helmholdt said. “I think you’re seeing the same thing here. I understand an even playing field. But some want to work harder (at recruiting) than others.”

U lands Kegel

Kill came another step closer to landing nearly every top recruit in the state’s 2016 class by receiving a commitment from Chaska junior offensive lineman Matt Kegel.

The 6-foot-6, 295-pound Kegel, who also considered Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Pittsburgh, announced his decision on Twitter.

The Gophers now have four of the top five juniors in Minnesota as part of the 2016 recruiting class.

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