USF players capitalize on NIL law with special teams camp

·4 min read

LITHIA — One of the first NIL-related football camps in Florida took place Saturday at Coach Al Houchens Memorial Stadium, home of the Pinecrest Pilots youth football program. The brains behind the operation, USF players Spencer Shrader and Kenny Scribner, welcomed athletes with open arms and bright grins.

Most of the initial hubbub surrounding NIL has been about social media presence and endorsement deals, but hosting camps, clinics or private lessons are also allowed under the new rules. Florida’s NIL — or name, image, likeness — law allows student athletes to profit off themselves through events like this one, autograph signings or endorsement deals.

On the eve of NIL’s one-month anniversary, Shrader, a junior kicker, hosted a three-hour special teams camp for 14 high schoolers (mostly local, though one traveled from Ft. Lauderdale) at $75 a pop.

Redshirt sophomore punter/kicker Scribner, freshman punter Andrew Stokes and junior long snapper Andrew Beardall joined Shrader up at the camp to offer their insight into the three positions and Division I football.

“We wanted to individualize instruction, both from the physical piece but also the mental piece,” Shrader said. “Eventually, we’ll expand and we’ll do more talking about the college experience and what life itself is like. I think that’s just as important as the actual athletic piece of it.”

The event was the brainchild of Shrader and Scribner, who’ve been working at it since their team met with the CEO of INFLCR (the NIL education and compliance company USF partnered with) the day after NIL went into effect.

The pair immediately started conceptualizing how it would take advantage of this new opportunity and ultimately landed on the special teams camp. Shrader said he hopes to host twice monthly camps in the offseason starting next spring.

Brands aren’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for special teams units around the country. But punting, kicking and snapping are meticulous tasks that often require outside guidance from a specialist if a high schooler wishes to earn a scholarship to play in college. So why shouldn’t athletes like Shrader step in to offer such guidance (and make some money while they’re at it)?

That’s exactly why Patrick Johnson and his company, Vantage Sports, decided to sponsor the camp. Vantage Sports is an NIL-era company that works to connect high school athletes with collegiate ones for paid coaching appointments or to discuss the recruiting process. The company reached out to Shrader via Instagram to talk NIL, and they ended up collaborating to put on Saturday’s event.

“A player-led camp cuts out the middleman (the university),” Johnson said. “And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.”

The camp started with a “flex” or warm up like the players do at USF. After that, they moved on to field goals, followed by punting and kickoffs (with snapping also practiced during all three).

In addition to honing the athletes’ skills, Shrader and the other three USF players were determined to teach their campers about the recruiting process, as well as what it’s like to be a Division I athlete.

During water breaks, the players shared anecdotes and tips they accumulated from their journeys to USF. Shrader played soccer throughout high school at Newsome but didn’t kick until his senior year. He then traveled to Brazil for three months and Canada for three months to play semi-professional soccer. After that, he sent old high school film to universities, eventually finding a home at USF.

One of his former football coaches, Paul Goss, said Shrader didn’t even know how to put his pads on right when he first started playing. Now, he’s approaching his third season of Division I football and teaching young high schoolers how to improve their game.

Does Shrader think his 18-year-old self would be surprised to see him now?

Sort of.

“I’ve always had a personality where I’ve been entrepreneurial,” the entrepreneurship major said, laughing. “So, I don’t think I would be too shocked. I would be like, I don’t know how he got there, but I’m not surprised.”

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