COVINGTON, Ga. — Trey Camps got a glimpse of one of the state’s top recruits during Monday’s practice, and, despite only being acquainted with him for about a month, he wasn’t shy about sharing his feelings regarding the star player’s effort on a particular play.
“We’re not paddycaking out here today, Benson,” Camps shouted while taking a couple of lunging steps in his direction. “Get your butt on him!”
The “Benson” Camps was referring to was none other than Eastside defensive tackle and offensive lineman, LaMarius Benson — a South Carolina commitment who’s considered a three or four star prospect, depending on who’s recruiting service you trust most.
And Camps gets it. He knows he’s talented. But the newly minted offensive line coach at Eastside said that doesn’t scare him from trying to motivate a player of Benson’s caliber to keep pushing the gas pedal to the floor.
Blame it on the overflowing passion that comes with a guy who still has fond memories of digging into the trenches during his playing days at Central Macon High.
“Offensive line is something I played in high school, so this group is really close to my heart,” Camps said. “I really get into it with these guys.”
Camps has been chomping at the bit to coach his old position, even while he spent the last two years as a graduate assistant at Valdosta State. There, he tutored fullbacks and tight ends. Before that, he volunteered as a coach for the Valwood School, a private school in Valdosta.
Until Camps’ appointment to the Eastside o-line, it was Eagles head coach Troy Hoff who cut his time over the previous two years between being the overall steward of the program and coaching up the trenchmen.
And Hoff doesn’t mind spreading the wealth, as far as time coaching linemen goes.
“I’m excited about it,” Hoff said. “Offensive line is a time intensive position. Probably the most time intensive position to coach that there is. I’m excited about Trey being here, though. It’s good for our guys to get a young guy’s voice in there with some college experience. I loved doing it, and I still will do it some, but this gives me a chance to be everywhere on the field more during practice time.”
Camps’ ability to tutor a unit that, aside from Benson, is fairly green overall, will likely be a determining factor on just how fast Eastside’s young, skill-talent-rich offense can gel during the season that’s less than three weeks away from kickoff.
“Everything still revolves around that group,” Hoff said. “They’re the heart and soul of you’re team. You can have great skill guys and a great quarterback and all of that, but if you can’t block for them, you’re in trouble.”
Camps said he met Hoff during a recent coaching clinic in Atlanta. When they connected, there was no position available for Camps. But that changed several weeks later when Camps received a phone call from Hoff asking if he was interested.
“And we just worked from there,” Camps said. “It’s was a blessing. It was definitely a real blessing.”
And he’s hit the ground running — case in point, his lack of shyness to bark instruction and motivation to even the most decorated Eastside players.
“For me, the standard is the standard, no matter if the kid is an SEC commit or a freshman starting out,” Camps said. “If I’m not yelling, then I don’t care. If I’m yelling at you, it’s not out of a place of being mad or upset, but it’s that I see more in you. And even more so I should be on your case with a guy like Benson, because obviously the talent’s there. I’m just out here to keep pushing you to take that four star (ranking) to a five star.”
And according to the newest Eagle coach, the players are responding positively to his coaching passion.
“I think when other guys see that — see someone getting after the guy who’s a leader on their team, and he responds to it, it helps those guys see that everyone is held to the same standard,” he said. “I think that helps push everyone, the whole unit, to grow.”
Although Eastside’s lost 25 seniors, including a three-year starter at quarterback in Austin Holloway, and 2016 starting tailback Anthony Brown, both Camps and Hoff feel good about the stable of running backs returning. Shifty junior, Taylor Carter will team up with a pair of Rockdale transfers in senior Tyon Davis and junior Jordan Rogers.
Hoff says any of the three is the kind of back that doesn’t need a large crease to break a big run.
“We always want to run the ball, and we’ve got a great group of backs who are unselfish and push each other every day,” Hoff said. “Our line sees that, and they know they don’t have to create six-foot holes. Our backs can hit it and they can hit it running.”
But that doesn’t mean Camps won’t be pushing hard for his front to be as active as possible.
“On the high school level, what you can be changes year to year depending on what you’ve got,” Camps said. “But one thing you can do is coach them to be have the mentality to play aggressive, play fast and play hard. I want to be aggressive up front. I want coaches to say, even if we lose a game, I want them to say, ‘Man, ya’ll are tough.’”