ASHLAND—At Southern Oregon University’s annual high school football camp, there’s a symbiotic relationship for all parties involved.
For the high school players, it’s a team building experience—important for a group like South Medford, which enters the new season with many new faces.
"A lot of our teammates are young and they were kind of nervous to be moving up to varsity and they really had no choice,” senior running back Terrence Butler said. “When we come out here and compete as a team and be successful, it means a lot to them.”
One-on-one instruction from the SOU players also puts in perspective exactly what it’ll take to be an athlete at the next level.
"The grind is insane,” said Ashland senior linebacker Myles Montgomery. “In high school, it feels hard doing doubles but in the camp, you really see how hard the (SOU players are) working."
The hard work is on display in more ways than one, according to Henley head coach Alex Stork.
"They're really good role models for our guys and guys you can just point at like Isiah Carter, Keegan Lawrence, Devvon Gage, Tyson Cooper and say that's who you want to be like. Not because of who they are as a football player, which is obviously exceptional, but because they're exceptional human beings," he said.
"Honestly I'm not used to it because a lot of these kids kind of look at us like celebrities,” SOU senior safety Tyler Dean said. “They're intuitive, they're coachable, they want to listen, they want to know, and they ask questions."
It’s a two-way street though because the Raider players benefit as well.
Take it from Stork, who was in their exact same position when he played for SOU in 2014.
"The cool part about being one of the players as a coach here is that you get a whole newfound respect for your own coaches and coaches in general,” he said.
It’s because teaching something forces one to understand the practice of it on a deeper level, according to Dean.
"Being a coach you have to mesh,” Dean said. “Our coaches all have to mesh together for us to be one and play great. Seeing my teammates do it, I see how they think, I see how they work."