College football: Catawba holding prospect camps

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 16, 2024

By Mike London

SALISBURY — It’s June, but Catawba head football coach Tyler Haines is working and testing more than he’s resting.

On Friday, Catawba held the second of its three “1-day elite prospect camps.” The first one was on June 7. The last one will be on June 21.

“It’s a really good atmosphere,” Haines said. “We’ll turn the lights on. We’ll crank the music up.”

College prospects pay $50 for the exposure and for three hours of college coaching.

Be seen. Be evaluated. Be coached. Those are Haines’ buzz words for the events.

Catawba is not a hard sell for recruits. There’s a nice campus, a solid academic school, a lot of good places to eat and an improving football program that was 5-6 in Haines’ first year at the helm. Catawba finished 2023 with a momentum-building victory against South Atlantic Conference rival Carson-Newman, so the Indians own a one-game winning streak.

Haines explained that about 90 percent of the camp prospects are rising seniors — the Class of 2025. Most of the others are rising juniors. Some might already have an offer, but they have not yet committed and are still looking around.

Catawba has a degree of interest in just about everyone in attendance. The prospect camp is an unofficial third stage in Catawba’s recruiting process.

“When we finish our spring season, we take a look at where we are,” Haines said. “High school coaches have recommended the guys they think can play for us, and then we take a good look at their film. If a coach recommended them and we also liked what we saw on film, then the next phase is usually attendance at one these camps. We get to see them up close and we get to see them move around a little bit (without pads), but probably the biggest thing is we get to see how they respond to us coaching them. We get to find out if our guys liked coaching a certain player — or if they didn’t.”

A few offers might be made right away. A punter received an offer from Catawba after the first camp.

But as Haines is fond of saying, offers aren’t given, they’re earned.

Catawba’s incoming recruiting class includes Mike Geter, a record-breaking Salisbury High athlete that Haines obviously is excited about. A lot of Salisbury citizens are happy that Geter will be playing in his hometown.

Catawba also is working hard on portal guys. There’s at least a chance that another local legend may be returning home to suit up for the Indians.

Malcolm Wilson, a North Rowan running back who had been mostly watching at Barton, had some good Saturdays after transferring to join the Indians last season.

“Sometimes guys have more fun and play harder in front of their home fans,” Haines said.

Catawba’s season starts at Davidson on Sept. 7. Many are happy to see Davidson back on the schedule. It’s a short trip, and there’s a certain level of prestige attached to playing Davidson.

Catawba won’t have a home game until Carson-Newman visits on Sept. 28.