“THE CAMPS HAVE BEEN VITAL. THE COACHES SEE WHO I AM AND WHAT I CAN DO.”
— ALEX GOURLEY
SOUTH IREDELL JUNIOR CENTER Alex Gourley stands 6-foot-0 and weighs 280 pounds. He’s been told by college coaches that he’s not as
tall as the offensive linemen they normally recruit. Because of his height, the recruiters have
said they would like to see him up close and
personal for a better evaluation.
That’s why Gourley finds it so important to
attend college camps during the summer.
“The camps have been vital,” he said. “The
coaches see who I am and what I can do. I get
to know the coaches better.”
Because he started as a freshman on a state
championship team and has the size to play
college football, Gourley has been on the camp
and combine circuit for the last two years in
hopes of getting scholarship offers. He started
attending combines in January of his freshman
year and has taken part in college camps each
of the past two summers at N.C. State, Duke,
East Carolina and BYU.
Gourley said the camps have been especially
“A lot of the combines tape everything so the
beneficial since it’s an open recruitment pe-
riod and the coaches have more time to give
instructions. The combines, however, are a
little different, he said. Coaches don’t attend
the combines and the events include drills (40-
yard dash, shuttle runs and vertical and broad
jumps) and 1-on- 1 or 7-on- 7 competitions.
college coaches get to see it anyway,” Gourley said.
At the combines, he’s been able to improve
his shuttle time despite getting heavier. Gourley
has also excelled at the 1-on- 1 drills.
“I’ve definitely gotten better at those,” he
“The school’s needs definitely influence re-
said. “I snap the ball with a quarterback behind
me and I have to keep the defensive lineman
from reaching him. It’s usually the 1-on-1s
where you distinguish yourself. We get the film
that we can send to the coaches.”
Gourley said if his height turns out to be an
issue for some schools in pro-style offenses, he
thinks he can find a home with a team that runs
a spread or triple-option offense and values
smaller, quicker linemen.
cruiting,” Gourley said. “Most colleges want a
lineman who is at least 6-foot- 2. But BYU, for
example, said they don’t care about height.”
COM BI NE S
C, South iredell
A TREND AMONG COLLEGE PROS- pects in recent years has been the arly verbal commitment – student- athletes making a decision on where
to play football months, and sometimes years,
before National Signing Day.
As the recruiting process has moved up with
freshmen and even eighth graders getting
scholarship offers, potential collegiate players
are getting the decision out of the way in order
to enjoy the rest of their high school experience
and occasionally graduate early and enroll in
college ahead of their classmates.
Freddie Phillips, of Pelion, S.C., is an example of this new phenomenon. The 6-foot- 2,
195-pound safety verbally committed to N.C.
State in May before finishing his junior year in
high school and after a recruitment that started
in middle school. Phillips said a strong performance at a Future Stars event in Huntersville,
N.C., the summer following the eighth grade led
to his first correspondence from a college coach.
“It started real early for me,” he said. “When I
got back home the next week I had a letter from
Clemson. That’s how everything started.”
During Phillips’ first two years in high school
his recruitment picked up and he began taking
unofficial visits to ACC and SEC schools.
“It’s fun but you’ve also got to learn that it
can be stressful if you let it be stressful,” he
said. “Those phone calls and direct Twitter
messages can be a lot.”
A stellar freshman season followed by a
sophomore slump resulted in a position change
for Phillips from wide receiver to defensive
back. This sparked further interest because of
his two-way ability.
“I realized I’d have to play more than one
position and I found out I was good at safety,”
By the second game of his junior year offers
from N.C. State, North Carolina, Wake Forest,
Coastal Carolina and Charlotte were on the
table. The No. 20 overall prospect in South Caro-
lina according to 247sports.com has taken his
recruitment in stride and keeps it in perspective.
“I look at it that it’s only going to happen once
and I’m going to enjoy it and take in all the love
they’re giving me,” Phillips said.
Now that his college of choice is firm, Phillips
plans to graduate in December and enroll at
N.C. State in January. “I’m just going to enjoy my
senior season, have fun and win some games,”
“IT’S FUN BUT YOU’VE ALSO GOT TO LEARN THAT IT CAN BE STRESSFUL IF YOU LET IT BE STRESSFUL. THOSE PHONE CALLS
AND DIRECT TWITTER MESSAGES CAN BE A LOT.” — FREDDIE PHILLIPS
FOLLOW @FNFMAG ON TWIT TER 21 FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL CAROLINAS 2014