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Dozens of East Texas Athletes Attend North Texas Football Camp in Tyler

North Texas football coach Dan McCarney speaks to players during their camp Tuesday in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

TYLER — It’s clear why athletes across the country flock to college football camps during the summer: exposure and tool-sharpening.

But coaches get just as much out of it.

“It’s what keeps all of us young … working with young people,” said North Texas head football coach Dan McCarney following the Mean Green’s camp Tuesday afternoon at Tyler Junior College’s Pat Hartley Field.

McCarney and his team of assistants conducted the two-hour camp, which was attended by dozens of the top high school players in the region.

“We’ve got the best high school football in the state of Texas, period, end of story,” said McCarney, who put on a camp in Mesquite earlier Tuesday. “Really, no matter where you go in Texas it’s just that way. It’s competitive, there’s athletes, they’re well-coached, they come from great programs, they know what expectations are to win and how to prepare to win. And it’s no different out here in East Texas, it’s just outstanding football.”

Gilmer’s Tanner Barr (left) and Ardarius Johnson participated at the North Texas football camp Tuesday in Tyler. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

While McCarney and other college coaches use summer camps to instruct, there’s also a business side to it.

“Obviously, we get to evaluate these guys and they get to evaluate our coaching staff,” McCarney said. “And along the way, hopefully teach them some real good techniques and fundamentals.”

Gilmer 2014 ATH Tanner Barr (6-0, 175), who quarterbacked the Buckeyes to the Class 3A Division I championship game last December, was one of the several players in attendance.

Barr starred at safety his sophomore season, racking up 10 interceptions en route to an all-state campaign. Ane he found himself back on that side of the ball Tuesday in front of the North Texas coaches.

“That’s where my heart is, over there on defense,” Barr said. “I went over there and did the best I could. I’m still a little rusty, but once I start working at it, it’ll get back to normal. I have a few more camps I’m going to go to this summer as a safety and we’ll see how it goes with that.”

Barr’s teammate, 2014 ATH Ardarius Johnson (5-9, 165), said attending college camps will only help his recruiting outlook.

“You learn a lot, you learn new things, you learn different things about defensive back and receiver and it’s good to see your competition,” said Johnson, who also attended the TCU camp in Kilgore last week. “Of course, everybody would like to go D-I so this is a good camp to go to.”

Chapel Hill 2014 safety D.D. Mumphrey said the camps bring out the competitive nature in all the athletes.

“I love it because you’ve got people like (Whitehouse receiver) Jake Parker, he’s an outstanding receiver … I like going against him,” said Mumphrey, who was at Baylor’s camp in Marshall this past Saturday. “I like going and competing against the best of the best.”

McCarney, a coaching veteran of more than 30 years who’s entering his third season in charge at North Texas, said conducting summertime camps has never gotten old.

“I love it,” he said. “This is what I think drives all of us — working with young people and getting them to improve, even in a two-hour practice like this. We’ve all got a lot of tools in our toolbox and we try to help people with the things we can teach them from our experiences. To see them grasp it and go do it, it’s just so much fun.”

Players compete during a drill at the North Texas football camp Tuesday in Tyler. (Christopher R. Vinn, ETSN.fm)

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