Who Ranks The Ranking Camps?
Ranking camps are a tool, but they are not the single ultimate tool that will make or break you college recruiting.
A quick Google search will nail out the current landscape of kicking only ranking camps we see today:
There’s Kohls, Sailer, NKR, Kicking World, Pro Kicker, and a nearly uncountable number of regional kicking coaches - or rather warlords - who each control the lines of communication between recruits and college football coaches in that area.
The business model is pretty simple: pay me, win my event and Nick Saban will give you a scholarship. The business model also relies upon a maximum 1:many format where the goal is to get as many prospective kickers in one spot with as little “coaching” as possible in order to maximize profits. From a revenue standpoint, it’s genius. But, from a getting better standpoint, less so.
There are kickers who have never done a single ranking camp who play at SEC programs then there are kickers who have done every camp and go nowhere. Still, though, there are kickers who do all the camps and do end up going to a big name brand school. It’s these camp success stories that the camp organizers can then turn around and say, “Look! Our model works!”
Did it though?
Correlation is not causation. Are these camps that good, or are these camps only good because talented players decided to show up and participate? I would argue the latter.
Dig deep enough into the fun drama of kicking camps and you will hear horror stories of camp organizers jockeying over one another, begging particularly talented players and their families to come to their event, knowing that these players would probably be successful regardless of whoever they worked with, but wanting to be able to claim credit for their success by virtue of being there.
I call this the “claim game”.
Watch during any signing event with a kicker recruit and you will suddenly find out they had 34 different kicking coaches on Twitter all saying they were their guy. It’s both funny and sad to see the vile and vitriol grown adult men can have for one another over who can properly claim they worked with a kicker, but it happens.
In a very real sense, this is their business model. If they cannot associate themselves with successful kicker recruits going to brand-name college football programs that the average high school football player would cut their arm off to go to, another coach will and will probably gain business from it.
The claim game isn’t something that the ranking camps do, it is something the regional kicking coach warlords also engage vigorously in. Their model is to position themselves in opposition to the darkness and evil ranking camp operation. But, in reality, it is a symbiotic and self-perpetuating relationship: the ranking camps provide a platform that drives young players to get better at by seeking individualized instruction and the regional coaches develop more talented players that ranking camps can claim credit for.
For families, your best policy is simple: “We like everyone!”
Who cares if 34 grown adult men argue on Twitter about who really was responsible for your kid’s success as long as you end up going to the college you wanted to go to, let them slug it out.
The core problem of the college recruiting industry market is its utter lack of any semblance of regulation. I had a dad of a talented player who worked on Wall Street once joke with me, “If people in my industry said or did even 1/10th of the things coaches are saying and doing in this industry, we’d all be in jail.”
Families and players are frightened to death of upsetting camp organizers or regional private coaches for fear that they will say something poorly about them when speaking to a college football coach looking for recruits. So, many bite their tongues and just grit their teeth until that one, glorious day when college football recruiting is finally over.
…or at least until their kid decides to transfer. But that’s for another day.
Some further reading on Ranking Camps
The Small, Unfairly Exclusive World Of Kickers The Atlantic