In the past, football started in the late summer with training camp and ended in the winter. Teams would have a few spring workouts, but that was pretty much it for organized football. If you wanted to sharpen your skills as a player or recruit, you had to work out on your own.
That isn't the case today, as the 7-on-7 game has revolutionized the offseason for football. Basketball players can play their sport year-round due to club teams playing in the offseason. Today, football players can pretty much play club 7-on-7 organized football.
Like many things in life, there are pros and cons to these 7-on-7 teams, tournaments and camps. There's a lot of good that comes from them, but not everybody views them in a positive light.
The following read will focus on the pros and cons of recruits attending 7-on-7 camps and tournaments.
Say you're a QB or WR who needs more work on how to read coverages, or you're a DB who must improve his awareness and route-recognition skills.
These 7-on-7 settings are a huge help for players who fit this description. Running backs benefit by improving their hands and route-running, while linebackers get extended reps to work on their cover skills.
The reps that these settings offer a recruit only make them better football players.
Most high school teams have spring and summer practices before taking a few weeks off to regroup for training camp. Not all teams participate in 7-on-7 tournaments.
During these practices, team chemistry is being built as all teams must unify for the common goal of winning games and a championship.
If a recruit is out at a 7-on-7 event and away from his high school team, he's not maximizing his chances of bonding with his team and learning the playbook.
So your stud QB may be looking good throwing at 7-on-7 events, but in the fall, his timing may be off with his high school team's WRs because he didn't throw to them much in the offseason.
These 7-on-7 settings are really competitive, and many times recruits will end up playing two and three games a day.
The conditioning that they get only will have them in that much better shape when the season starts in the fall.
The weather is usually warm when 7-on-7 events take place, so recruits are both sharpening their skills with extra reps and conditioning in warm weather. That aids their stamina and endurance for the season.
In football, players are criticized when they don't show a passion for the game and are rewarded when they do.
But when is a lot of football too much football?
We forget that these are teenage kids who still have a lot to learn about the world, about life, and who need to experience other things for personal maturation/growth. Oh, and I forgot, there's that small thing called "school" they have to worry about too.
Today, many of these recruits finish their season, and a few weeks later it's time to start hitting the combines and camps circuits. Then spring practice comes, then they play with their 7-on-7 teams, and then it's time for training camp to start before the season begins again.
Burnout is a serious issue here.
A recruit is more times than not the best player on his team, and he constantly dominates the competition he faces in practice.
So how much better is he really getting?
Attending these 7-on-7 events allows him to square off against far better competition and players of his talent level. It helps prepare him for college by having him compete against players who are as big, strong, athletic, quick and fast as he is.
Plus, it also gives him a preview of the speed of the college game. Attending 7-on-7 events can really help a recruit out by raising the level of his competition.
I don't want to be "that guy," but let's face it: Anytime a recruit works out, the injury monster is lurking.
With the competitiveness of these 7-on-7 events being so high nowadays, recruits are willing to do everything and anything to win and look good, even putting themselves in danger of being injured.
Recruits can go to these events and easily hurt a knee, break a bone, pull a hamstring or sprain an ankle. Safety is stressed at all of these events, but injuries can happen at anytime and to any recruit participating.
If it weren't for these 7-on-7 types of events, then perhaps a recruit like Robbie Rhodes of last year would not have been ranked so high.
Rhodes came into the circuit almost unknown and lit up a couple 7-on-7 events. He ended up being one of the best overall recruits in the 2013 class.
The exposure that these events gives a recruit is priceless. The big recruiting sites come out to cover them, and analysts seem to place a lot of value in them. Even college coaches keep tabs on them, and they can serve as a serious tool to help a recruit's stock.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.