July 19, 2008

Rison to youngsters: Learn from my mistakes

More Top Gun Showcase: Day One Photo Gallery

PAISLEY, Fla. Andre Rison knows what it's like to be on top. He also knows what's it's like to have it all taken away from you.

Rison made a passionate pitch about both life and football to a handful of the nation's top receivers during Saturday's first session of the FBU Top Gun Showcase Camp at the All-Star Sports Training Complex.

Emotion poured from Rison's lips as he tried to make the players understand that to be great in life and in football, you have to do things the right way and learn from the mistakes made by others.

"I've copped the Ferraris," Rison told the group that included five-star receivers Shaquelle Evans and Randall Carroll. "I've copped the jewelry. And I've made a ton of mistakes. You have to do it right. You have to be super focused on what's ahead of you.

"You guys have one more year to play high school football. You need to work hard every minute of it, go to class and take care of everything that you need to get to that next level. Think of all the bad cats that are home and didn't make the right decisions."

Rison said that's especially true when you're one of the nation's best players.

"Think of all the guys behind you clawing to come up and take your spot," Rison said. "There are eight million cats that want your job. I wasn't ranked coming out of high school. I worked hard and went and took somebody's spot, and that'll happen to you if don't try to be the best in everything you do.

"Don't just do it for yourself; do it for your family. Focus on good habits and being a leader. You have to make the most of the opportunity that's ahead of you. You only get one chance to do things the right way."

And that includes doing it the right way on the field.

Rison's No. 1 rule as a coach is he expects a receiver to be physical the second he steps on the field. He also pushes his receivers to go hard every single second and to pay attention to detail.

"Receivers have to be tough guys," he said. "You have to block, block, block and then not be afraid to go across the middle and take on a linebacker. You can't do the Randy Moss (stuff) where you play only when you want to, either. You have to focus on the small stuff.

"If you don't work hard then you won't touch the field. You have to go hard the second you step across that paint. You have to block, run, catch and do the little things on every single play."

Evans, a five-star receiver from Inglewood, Calif., said he learned a lot from listening to Rison's talk and can't wait to work with him even more over the next two days.

"He just let us know how it is and how you have to adjust to the next level," Evans said. "He let us know how he went through a lot of stuff, how he lived his life and how you have to avoid the mistakes if you want to be successful on the next level.

"He was one of the best receivers to play the game to me. It was a big surprise to see him out there. I've never been coached by as prestigious of a player as him. It's a big honor. I'm sure I'll learn a lot here at the camp. I already have from listening to him."


Saturday was mostly a travel day for the more than 60 players at the camp. They started to arrive at the complex from all corners of the country about 3 p.m., with Logan Thomas from Lynchburg (Va.) Brookville the last to arrive late in the evening.

After a dinner and meetings with coaches, the players went through a few light drills on the fields to stretch their legs and gear up for the next two days of action. And it's two days worth of action to which almost every single one of the players said they were looking forward.

"Just looking at all the big names that are in this camp gets you pumped up," said four-star running back Edwin Baker of Oak Park, Mich. "I mainly wanted to come down here, have some fun and meet new people, but after that session and looking at all those running backs out there, I think it's going to turn really competitive."

All of the positions are loaded with plenty of talent, but the running back group is packed with stars like Baker, Cierre Wood, Bryce Brown, Chris Whaley, Christine Michael and star junior running back Lache Seastrunk.

Sunday's sessions start at 9:15 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. Along with position drills, players will also be tested on the three-cone drill and vertical leap. In the evening there will be an off-camp activity.


Hampton (Va.) Phoebus quarterback Tajh Boyd has already quickly become a favorite with the camp coaches. Known as "Virginia" to the coaches, he was asked to break the huddle both before and after camp. He's also easily the most charismatic player in the camp.

From the eyeball test, probably the two most impressive players physically had to be Whaley, who came in at 235 pounds, and Zeke Motta, who came in at 207.5 pounds.

There were two scheduled major players who didn't make it to the event receiver Kraig Appleton of East St. Louis, Mo., and Rolando Jefferson of Fresno (Calif.) Edison.

While he's known for his great coverage skills as one of the nation's best corners, Cliff Harris will work out at receiver in the camp.

There's no mistaking where four-star athlete Byron Moore is going to school as he rolled into the camp wearing a brand new USC Trojans hat. Moore made headlines a few weeks back when he switched his pledge from UCLA to USC.

Whaley and Michael had the battle of the day in NCAA 2008 on the camp's PS2. Whaley beat Michael in the final minutes, 56-50. That's not the only battle that Whaley and Michael could be going through in the camp. The title of the top running back in the Lone Star State could also be on the line.

More Top Gun Showcase: Day One Photo Gallery

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