By Kevin Callahan
The NFL Combine experience is coming to South Jersey.
Lou Russo, formerly a personnel director with the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, and Total Turf Experience have teamed to offer The 5th Quarter Elite Football Camp, which will share a NFL Combine feel for the campers.
“Zybek Sports is the company who has the equipment that runs the NFL Combine,” said Russo, a former Cherokee High School football player and the founder of the camp. “Lee Woodall is our connection with Zybek, he is the President of the NFL Alumni (Philadelphia Chapter), so we partnered with Lee and Zybek.
“The unique partnership with that is from the first day of our camp we are offering a combine aspect for our players and with the combine being run by Lee and his equipment gives them basically the same feeling as the NFL Combine.
“We're going to have the combine run by two to four NFL scouts, so it will have a true NFL Combine feel for these high school kids,” Russo said.
This unique camp will also provide NFL experience as Eagles coach Doug Pederson and former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, who was the Giants interim head coach last year, will be guest speakers at the Coaches clinics.
The partnership with Zybek is as natural a fit for a football camp as the 5th Quarter Elite Football Camp with Total Turf. Russo, who grew up and still lives in Marlton, has been involved in the sports industry, mainly football, since 2007 while Total Turf is recognized as South Jersey’s premier indoor sports and state-of-the-art facility.
The 5th Quarter Elite Football Camp, which is for all position players, will be held at the spacious Total Turf Experience on Lambs Road in Pitman on June 15, 16 and 17. There will be technique work and tournaments on Sunday (7 vs. 7 and Battle of Bigs).
“Football camps are pivotal,” Russo said. “They not only help the players learn, not just at our event but any event, but will also help give them publicity.
“If their timing is well, they are able to share this with colleges. As our event continues to grow, colleges may inquire with us about players who were at our camp.
“Hopefully our name will continue to grow after this inaugural camp.”
Russo, 33, spent nine seasons with the Philadelphia Soul, including seven as the Director of Player Personnel, before venturing into this football camp opportunity.
“Our goal this year is to have 250 to 300 players and going forward to build the camp to where we have two to four camps a year,” Russo said. “We want the camp to be highly interesting to players, coaches and the parents, so we envision this growing to multiple camps a year, but not every month, or too many.
“Going forward, we hope to have players from all across the country as well as coaches,” Russo added.
In addition to Zybek, The 5th Quarter Camp has partnered with Virtua Sports Medicine and Reconstructive Orthopedics.
“The parent aspect of our camp, we think that is unique,” Russo added. “We are offering free seminars throughout the whole weekend to the parents.”
The seminars will include training, injury prevention, injury rehabilitation and concussions.
“That is part of the whole package,” Russo said. “It is not just for the players, but for the parents as well.”
“We have partnered with Virtua and Reconstructive Orthopedics which will headline the majority of them and we also have partnered with Endeavor Sports Performance, which is located at Total Turf and they will talk about the training aspect of it and Merrill Hoge as well,” Russo said about the former NFL player and ESPN analyst. “He will come and speak on the whole concussion topic.
“There's no better time for their child to play football, as far as the information we have, the change in play to make it safer, the protocol when your child might have a concussion and the rehabilitation,” Russo said. “We are trying to give them a lot of information, particularly on that because it is such a hot topic.”
Russo, who played football at Cherokee for John Scott, played football collegiately at La Salle University from 2002-2007, including a couple seasons for head coach Archie Stalcup, the former Lenape coach.
“He was a great guy, I enjoyed playing for him,” said Russo, who received his Bachelors of Science in finance and marketing in 2006 and his Masters of Business Administration in finance from La Salle in 2008.
Russo joined the Soul in 2008 as head of scouting. In 2013, he was named the Director of Player Personnel for the Soul, which has won three ArenaBowl Championships (2008, 2016 and 2017).
Since 2007, he has also worked with Ron Jaworski at NFL Films during the NFL season, as a Content Producer for the NFL Match-Up Show.
Now he is teaming up with Zybek.
“The other cool thing with Zybek is each individual player who attends the camp will receive a report, which will be basically the results of their combine and all their measurements and where they rank to the rest of the camp and also have a small comparisons to the NF,” Russo said. “If you are a receiver, and this is your 40 time, this is where you rank in the camp, this is where you compare to the NFL average, so it gives them a good measuring stick not only with their own competition but where they want to get to.
“And that sheet is invaluable to them because they can use that for colleges. Lee Woodall said there are several colleges that use the same equipment for their own testing, so there is a lot of validity to their times since they will be recorded by Zybek.
“So that is a partnership with us that makes us unique, but also makes pretty cool for the players who are attending.”
Register at: http://totalturf.net/football-camps/
The 5th Quarter Elite Football Camp is for all position players and will be held at the spacious Total Turf Experience on Lambs Road in Pitman on June 15, 16 and 17.
Friday, June 15:
2:30pm-4:00pm - Player Registration
4:00pm-7:30pm - NFL Combine Testing run by Zybek Sports
Saturday June 16:
8:00am-6:00pm - Individual, Group, and Team Instruction, Technique Training, Film Study and Competition
Sunday, June 17:
8:00am-4:00pm - 7v7 Battle Of The Bigs Tournament
Register at: http://totalturf.net/football-camps/