Four NFF Showcases Set to Help High School Seniors Find Millions in Scholarships
Arizona, joins Houston, Southern California, South Florida, becoming the fourth NFF outpost in 2023 to provide academically eligible high school football players an opportunity to land college scholarships at free events.
2023 NFF SHOWCASE DATES
Feb. 4 – Houston
Feb. 11 – Southern California (Orange County)
Feb. 25 – South Florida (Miami Gardens)
Feb. 25 – Arizona (Glendale)
• Events are free to both participants and college recruiters.
• NFF Showcases are expected to connect more than 1,200 high school seniors with coaches from more than 100 colleges and universities from the NCAA Division II, III and NAIA levels, landing more than 250 scholarships for participants in 2023.
• Participants have annually received millions in scholarships since the program’s inception in 2009.
• Events have collectively reached 13,050 players since the first event in 2009 with one in four landing on college rosters or approximately 3,275 student athletes enrolled in college.
IRVING, Texas (Jan. 26, 2023) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame highlighted the four upcoming NFF High School Showcases in Houston, Southern California, South Florida and for the first time in Arizona. Taking place between Feb. 5 and Feb. 25, the four events will provide hundreds of high school seniors from across the nation a chance to earn scholarships at the divisional level. Collectively, the participants are expected to be offered millions in academic and participation scholarships for their freshman year.
The NFF High School Showcases, which are absolutely free to both participants and college recruiters, provide academically eligible high school seniors who did not sign an NCAA Division I letter of intent an opportunity to go through a series of drills in front of divisional college coaches from the NCAA Division II, III and the NAIA levels. Local organizers anticipate the events will collectively attract representatives from more than 100 colleges covering 30 states, coupling them with more than 1,200 aspiring college players this year who are expected to land millions of dollars in academic and participation scholarships.
“The leaders in these cities all deserve huge praise for their efforts to expand opportunities for kids to earn their college degrees with football opening the door,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “¬Their leadership has helped build a free system, literally providing thousands of talented student-athletes the opportunity to continue their educations. The Showcases provide a great path to college that previously did not exist. It’s a huge difference maker, especially for those who did not sign at the Division I level but would love to still play college football.”
Participants, who all have to meet minimum academic standards, compete in a series of athletic drills designed to let divisional college coaches assess each player’s potential, including a 40-yard dash and several agility and strength tests. The events allow the college recruiters a unique opportunity to evaluate a large number of qualified student-athletes in a short period while minimizing their travel costs.
Launched by a group of Houston high school coaches in 2009, the concept expanded to Southern California in 2013. Florida joined in 2017 and Arizona for the first time in 2023. Other sites in the past have included Atlanta, Charlotte (NC) and Detroit. Collectively, the organizers anticipate the four events in 2023 will reach more than 1,200 seniors with an estimated one-in-four receiving some kind of financial aid to go to college.
Feb. 4 – The 15th Annual Houston Texans Senior Showcase will take place Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Texans Methodist Training Center next door to NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The event in Houston was founded by Phil Camp, the former head football coach at Milby High School in Houston; Coby Rhoden, an academic coordinator at Houston Aldine High School; and Chris Vaughan, a board member of the NFF Touchdown Club of Houston Chapter. The Houston event receives additional support from the Houston Texans and minority owner Javier Loya and the TaxAct Texas Bowl and Executive Director David Fletcher, who also serves on the board of the NFF Touchdown Club of Houston. Notable former players who have volunteered include Dallas Griffin (Texas and the 2007 NFF Campbell Trophy winner), Robert Hubble (Rice), N.D. Kalu (Rice), and well-known Texas high school coaches Dick Olin and the late Sonny Detmer.
Feb. 11 – The 10th Annual Terry Donahue Memorial California Showcase will take place Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. The event was launched in 2013 by College Football Hall of Fame Coach Terry Donahue, who passed away in 2021. Coach Donahue had tapped many former college coaches and players to help run the drills, and they have kept his legacy alive by continuing to stage the event. Nearly $40 million in scholarships have been awarded to 1,080 participants since the event’s inception. This year, representatives from more than 60 colleges are expected to attend with more than 500 athletes on site. Notables who have volunteered in the past include Steve Beuerlein (Notre Dame), Jim Everett (Purdue), Vince Ferragamo (Nebraska and an NFF National Scholar-Athlete), Nick Foles (Arizona), Jay Schroeder (UCLA), John Sciarra (UCLA, College Football Hall of Fame inductee and NFF National Scholar-Athlete), Cade McNown (UCLA and College Football Hall of Fame inductee), Rick Neuheisel (UCLA), Lester Towns (Washington) and James Washington (UCLA).
Feb. 25 – The 7th Annual Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase, Presented by Baptist Health, will occur Saturday, Feb. 25, at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida. The 2023 South Florida event will take place behind the leadership of Orange Bowl Committee, President & Chairman Dr. Yvonne Turner, CEO Eric Poms and Showcase subcommittee chair and former University of Miami linebacker Tony Coley. More than $7 million has been awarded to more than 350 participants over the event’s seven-year history. Other volunteers who have supported the event include and Glenn Blackwood (Texas), Henri Crockett (Florida State), Channing Crowder (Florida), Troy Drayton (Penn State), Jim Gainey (Florida), Larry Little (Bethune-Cookman), Nat Moore (Florida), John Offerdahl (Western Michigan), Brady Quinn (Notre Dame), Twan Russell (Miami), Dwight Stephenson (Alabama), Patrick Surtain (Southern Mississippi).
Feb. 25 – The Inaugural Arizona Senior Showcase will be held Feb. 25 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, which will have hosted Super Bowl LVII two weeks prior to the Showcase. The NFF Southern Arizona Chapter (NFFSAC), in collaboration with Glazier Clinics, has taken the lead in organizing the event with the support of the Arizona Cardinals and former college coaches Tim Kish, Mike Hankwitz and former UCLA QB Jay Schroeder. Kish recently became the NFFSAC President. Organizers anticipate more than 30 colleges will have representatives on site and more than 250 participants will take advantage of the opportunity.
“Most of these types of events around the country charge a fee to participate, excluding a lot of great kids who can’t afford the price of admission,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “The NFF Showcases provide all student-athletes, no matter their means, an opportunity to pursue the dream of attending college, and it’s a highly cost-effective way for us to make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of kids. And the impact has been nothing short of phenomenal.”
Fifteen years ago, Coach Camp and the NFF Touchdown Club of Houston Chapter joined forces with 75 high school coaches from the Houston Independent School District to stage the first Showcase. And over the years with the longstanding support of the Houston Texans, the event has enabled hundreds of high school seniors to market their academic and athletic skills to coaches from the Division II, III and NAIA football schools.
“We have had people come together all across the country to create opportunities for young men to continue their educations through hard work and dedication,” Camp said. “The Houston Showcase alone has produced well over $100 million in scholarships and grants in aid during the past 15 years, which has enabled young men to go to college, get their educations, graduate, and come back and make huge contributions in their communities.”
Wanting to give back to the community that supported him during a 20-year run as the UCLA head coach and with the great support of his family, the late Coach Donahue assembled an impressive array of former coaches and players from multiple colleges and universities to stage the first California Showcase in 2013. More than 4,000 students have attended the event during its first decade, and organizers have tracked 1,080 attendees who have received an estimated $40 million in financial aid from recruiters who have hailed from a cumulative 141 four-year colleges and 36 community colleges.
“‘Opportunity is one of the most precious gifts of life. How we respond when it is given to us, and how often we can provide it to others, can define our lives,’” Pat Donahue recalled his brother often saying. Pat co-founded the California Showcase with his late brother, Terry Donahue, and has continued to chair the event in his honor. “No one did more with the opportunities presented to him and very few have provided such opportunity to so many others. Over 1,000 kids have gone to college from Coach’s work with the California Showcase. There will be thousands more as we carry on his legacy of providing opportunity.”
Hearing about the success of the Showcases in Houston and Southern California, the Orange Bowl Committee in South Florida approached the NFF in 2017 about launching an event. The Orange Bowl, which ranks among the top local sports organizations in the country with an impressive reputation for supporting a wide range of community events, has strong ties to the NFF. The late Bob Epling, who served in leadership positions with both organizations, helped lay the groundwork for the first event in South Florida alongside Hatchell, who was the Orange Bowl Executive Director from 1987 to 1993 before becoming the NFF President.
“South Florida is home to an incredible array of talented student-athletes both on the field and in the classroom, who are looking to use their athletic ability to secure a college education, beyond those who receive Division I scholarships,” said Orange Bowl Committee President & Chair Frank Gonzalez. “Orange Bowl is proud to be able to assist in this endeavor by pairing these student-athletes with schools from around the country in a single-day combine-type setting. We have achieved tremendous success so far with student-athletes earning $7 million in financial assistance as a direct result of our Showcase.”
Kish, who coached for eight years at Arizona before finishing out his career at Oklahoma, was not familiar with the NFF until he returned to the Tucson area to retire. The local chapter approached him to get involved, and before he knew it, he was on the board and then NFF Southern Arizona Chapter President.
Kish has aggressively begun transforming the chapter with multiple initiatives, including the Showcase. He enlisted the support of the Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Football Coaches Association (AZFCA), and both organizations have provided key support. The Cardinals have provided their facility, and the AZFCA has helped enlist volunteers while spurring players to register.
“After becoming president, I just dove into the NFF website, and I was very intrigued about the information on the Showcases,” said Kish. “I reached out to Phil Camp, and the rest is history… We had a dialogue with the Cardinals, and it made sense to do it at their facility because of their central location… At the end of the day, I am extremely motivated even if we’re only helping a couple kids to continue their educations. I am super stoked for these kids who will have the opportunity to continue their educations because of football.
“We have been using the hashtag ‘HelmetOnHelmetOff’ to promote the Showcase and all the activities of the Southern Arizona Chapter, stressing that we will stay with these young people from when they begin playing football until they finish and hopefully creating opportunities for them to be successful and impact our community as leaders in the future.”
Additional notable former players and coaches who have volunteered at past events include Charles Arbuckle (UCLA), Mike Farr (UCLA), Sam Farr, Jr. (UCLA), Brian “BJ” Jones (UCLA), Greg McElroy (Alabama and 2010 NFF National Scholar-Athlete) and Reggie Moore (UCLA).
Click the following links for coverage of the 2022 events:
• Los Angeles Times: Terry Donahue’s legacy lives on with the California Showcase for overlooked recruits
• The Orange County Register: Terry Donahue’s Free Football Combine for Overlooked Players Continues in the Late UCLA Coaching Legend’s Vision
• Texas Monthly: This Event Turns Houston HS Football Dreams Into College Scholarships
• KTRK-TV (ABC-Houston): Greater Houston Senior Football Showcase Puts Spotlight on Unsigned Seniors
About The Orange Bowl
Orange Bowl is a 380-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars through its Orange Bowl Cares program: Youth Sports, Education, Community Engagement and Legacy Programs. Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with 2023 Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30. For more information on the 2023 Orange Bowl events, including promotional inquiries and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org or follow @OrangeBowl on social media.
About The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters in 47 states, NFF programs include the selection and induction of members of the College Football Hall of Fame; the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta; Future For Football; The William V. Campbell Trophy®; the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments; the NFF National High School Academic Excellence Award& Hatchell Cup presented by the Original Bob’s Steak and Chop House ; and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Catapult, Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Jostens, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the New York Athletic Club, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation and the Sports Business Journal. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork and learn more at footballfoundation.org.
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