July 23, 2009 9:20:00 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
The recruiting wars and the college admission process was different for Marcus Dent Sr.
Twenty years ago, the former New Hope High School standout didn''t have Internet sites and recruiting services to help check his transcript and to assist him in his preparation for standardized tests like the SAT or the ACT.
Still, Dent went on to play tight end at Alcorn State (1989-92) and was on a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship team.
But Dent remembers meeting so many players who wish they would have known more about how to prepare themselves for the recruiting process.
These days, Dent, who operates www.southernathletics.ning.com, a free Web site dedicated to educating and promoting student-athletes about the recruiting and eligibility process, sees student-athletes in the same position, and he is doing something to help them.
Dent has teamed with Erasmus Harvey of Elite Performance Sports to sponsor The Southern Athletics Football Combine on Saturday at Noxubee County High School.
Registration for the event will begin at 8 a.m. The combine, which costs $25, will put players through athletic tests and drills and will offer a presentation for student-athletes and parents that is designed to help families monitor academic progress and to plot a course through the college recruiting process.
Dent said he talked at length with Noxubee County High football coach M.C. Miller about what student-athletes with college aspirations need to know to remain eligible and to move through the process. He said he hopes parents and student-athletes will take advantage of the combine.
"I have been working on it for two years and trying to get everything in line," Dent said. "The No. 1 thing is the educational part and how to do things. I had a kid yesterday who didn''t know what the Clearinghouse was. Those are things kids need to know. They also need to know what they have to do from their freshman year to their senior year and to make sure they are taking all of their core classes."
Registration with the Clearinghouse is required for those wishing to play at the Division I and II level.
The Clearinghouse offers players and parents the opportunity to monitor the process to be sure athletes are on the right track to being cleared, or eligible to participate in college athletics.
In addition, the Clearinghouse provides college coaches with access to the academic progress of all future athletes.
Athletes are advised to begin the Clearinghouse process in the beginning of their junior year.
Dent said the combine, which will be sponsored by Russell Athletic and Sport Specialty, will offer instruction on how to do that and will provide information to help make the process easier.
Harvey, a former football player at Valdosta State and with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League, works for Elite Performance Sports, which also provides an Internet site designed to help student-athletes educate themselves and to showcase their skills to college coaches and scouts.
Harvey also works as defensive coordinator at Cobb Saints Sports Academy in Atlanta. The academy helps student-athletes who fall short academically bolster their resumes and meet entrance requirements to become eligible to participate in college athletics.
Harvey holds camps and combines in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He said he has partnered with Dent to hold similar events in Mississippi and Alabama, and that both men will do events in Florida.
"It is all about increasing exposure or giving exposure to players who are not in the top 100 of Rivals or the top 100 of Scout (two nationally known Internet recruiting services)," Harvey said. "Our motto is we keep going until everyone else quits."
Dent said the athletic portion of the combine will be filmed and will be put onto the player''s profile when it is uploaded to his Web site.
Players will receive a T-shirt and are asked to bring outdoor wear and cleats so they can participate in the drills and athletic portion of the combine.
Dent said his objective is to make sure no student-athletes "fall through the cracks" and miss an opportunity to go to college or to play sports in college.
"I want people to be able to say the camp helped them make a good decision and it also enlightened them about the things they need to do," Dent said. "I met so many guys who in their football careers said, ''I wish I would have known when I was 16 or 17 years old and I might have made a different decision.'' It''s not that the decision they made was a bad one, but you want to be able to grab every opportunity that comes your way.
"We''re trying to cover all avenues and to level the playing field. I think it will be a big eye-opener. We hope to open the eyes of all of the young athletes and their parents to let them know that they need to do these things so their kids will have a chance."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.