Familiar setting for Callaway coach
HOGANSVILLE – It’s a family tradition.
For more than half of his life, Callaway offensive coordinator Matt Napier has been taking part in the Mike Hodges quarterback and wide receiver camp in Cochran.
He first began going to the camp when he was a player in high school while his father, long-time Murray County coach Bill Napier, was an instructor.
For the past nine years, Matt Napier has been the one doing the instructing at the camp, and for many of those years he worked alongside his father.
Last week, Napier was back in Cochran along with eight of his players for the five-day camp.
“Coach Hodges introduces the coaches, and there are several coaches included myself who went to the Hodges camp,” Napier said. “I started going as an eighth-grader.”
Bill Napier was a coach at the camp for nearly 30 years, but he was unable to participate this year because of health issues.
“My dad wasn’t there this year with his ALS, but he coached it for 27 years,” Napier said. “He was there the first year the camp started, and he’s been coaching it ever since. He’s kind of a legend.”
While Napier has a close connection to the camp, that’s not the reason Callaway participates in it each year.
Napier said it is an extremely valuable camp for the players, who gets hours of valuable instruction time each day under the direction of some elite high-school coaches.
“Through the years, we’ve really put a lot of stock in it,” Napier said. “It’s important for our kids to get down there and just rep. You think about how many reps you can get with 11 practices in four days. It’s a special thing. It’s unlike anything going on right now, the amount of work you can get in. It’s truly a working camp. That’s what coach Hodges sells, and that’s why it’s been so successful through the years.”
Some of Callaway’s veteran players, including senior quarterbacks Braylon Sanders and Dylan Johnson, were unable to participate, although both of those men previously attended the camp.
Napier said the eight players who accompanied him to Cochran were better for it.
“We went down there and had 11 practices, and had some good work,” Napier said. “Some young guys this year got an opportunity to go, and ended up being some really good work for them. Some guys got a whole lot better down there, just like they always do.”
Napier has a tremendous track record of developing quarterbacks over the years, and he said the Hodges camp has played a hand in that.
“You think about all the guys over the years, from Terry Godwin, to Ricky and Tez Parks, all the way through,” Napier said. “All of these guys have gotten a good couple of years at that camp working the fundamentals, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a fundamentals camp, teaching the basics of quarterback play, and route running, from some of the best coaches to ever coach the game.”
Next week, 15 more Callaway players will be heading to Cochran for the Mike Hodges offensive-line camp.
“I think that’s the most we’ve ever had,” Napier said.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports