Even though the first official practice is four months away, Joel Gilmore III and Darnell Walker Jr. are already thinking ahead to the 2016 high school football season – and beyond.
That’s why Gilmore and Walker – both junior running backs at Mallard Creek High – joined more than 160 other players for Sunday’s VTO Sports Elite 100 Showcase camp.
The camp – held in cold and blustery conditions at Mallard Creek High’s stadium – drew some of the region’s top underclassmen for a day of instruction and skills competition.
“We’ve been working hard all winter,” Gilmore said. “As soon as the spring started, we wanted to showcase what we can do and how hard we’ve been working. We wanted to see how it goes against some competition.
“Plus, we all want to go out with a bang for our last season, so we can pick up some offers and continue our careers in college.”
Gilmore and Walker were among 10 Mallard Creek players at Sunday’s camp, and 52 players from Observer-area high school teams.
With the Mavericks bidding to win their fourth consecutive N.C. High School Athletic Association 4AA state championship next season, Walker said the Elite 100 Showcase is good preparation for what’s coming up.
“There’s a lot of competition out here,” Walker said. “It really gives us a chance to see what’s out there, and what we’re going to go against next year.
“It’s a real good place to get our game up, and get ready for next year.”
Most of the players attending Sunday’s Elite 100 Showcase came from North Carolina schools, with a handful from South Carolina and Virginia.
Then there was Quamir Mosley – he traveled from New Jersey.
Mosley, a junior at Passaic County Technical Institute, made the 9 1/2-hour trek from his home in Passaic, N.J., for Sunday’s camp.
“I’ve been planning this for a month,” said Mosley, a 5-foot-5 running back. “I just wanted to show my work and talent.”
While Mosley was one of the smallest players at the camp, he did come up with a big play – a diving catch in the end zone during the 7-on-7 drills.
Vance quarterback Kingsley Ifedi and defensive lineman Derek Faison were among those named the Elite 100 Showcase’s top position players in a vote of the camp’s coaches, one of 11 awards handed out at the end of the day.
Other position award winners were Tyler McElhenie of Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes High (wide receiver), Northern Guilford’s Myron Frazier (running back) and Jordan Lane (defensive back), Concord High’s Isaac Staton (tight end), Greenville (N.C.) Rose’s Charles Fletcher (offensive line), and Wake Forest High’s Jake Campbell (linebacker).
Campbell and McElhenie also received the defensive and offensive player skills awards, with Raleigh Millbrook offensive lineman Tyler Royal named the lineman skill award winner.
All three received an invitation to the Rivals.com Showcase camp on April 17 at Mallard Creek High.