Kentucky Football: Getting to know the 7v7 Phenomenon

Chris Doelle

IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida hosted the National 7v7 Football Association’s (NFA7v7) National Championship this past weekend. Teams from several states, including Kentucky, participated.

The event was in its third year. NFA7v7 was formed in 2012 and the seven vs. seven (7v7) phenomenon has taken off as a competitive sport in and of itself. This year's event included a new division for Florida middle schools (7th & 8th grades) called Future STARS.

Just in case you don't know what 7v7 is, it is a game played without the linemen and without pads with limited contact. You can find out more about the game at the NFA 7v7 website.

Here is the full list of Club and Future STARS teams included from the IMG/NFA7v7 tournament press release:

Club Division: Team Tampa (Tampa, Fla.); South Florida Fire (Miami, Fla.); South Florida Express Elite (Miami, Fla.); Central Florida Top Recruits (Orlando, Fla.); Cam Newton All-Stars (Atlanta, Ga.); AWP Sports (Ft. Wayne, Ind.); Bootleggers (New Orleans, La.); Core 6 Athletes Red (Chicago, Ill.); Windy City BOOM (Chicago, Ill.); North Carolina Elite (Charlotte, N.C.); South Florida Blur (Miami, Fla.); Midwest Elite (Detroit, Mich.); College Ready Athletics (Washington D.C./Northern Va.); Go Hard Elite (Louisville, Ky.); Team Delaware (Wilmington, Del.); D-Block (Knoxville, Tenn.); Tennessee Xpress Blue (Nashville, Tenn.); IDFFL (Toronto, Canada); A&B Athletics (Denver, Colo.); Tennessee Xpress Gold (Nashville, Tenn.); Gulf Coast BKS (Gulfport, Miss.); Top Gun (Chicago, Ill.); Stephenson HS (Lithonia, Ga.); North Cobb HS (Kennesaw, Ga.); Winning Strategy (Miami, Fla.); and La Villa (Edinburg, Texas).

Future STARS Division: Change Factor (Tampa, Fla.); Team 904 (Jacksonville, Fla.); Tallahassee All-Stars (Tallahassee, Fla.); Palm Beach All-Stars (Palm Beach County, Fla.); North Broward All-Stars (Broward County, Fla.); South Broward All-Stars (Broward County, Fla.); North Dade All-Stars (Dade County, Fla.); South Dade All-Stars (Dade County, Fla.); and Kendall All-Stars (Kendall, Fla.). You can read about this group in the Orlando Sentinel.

Kentucky's team is named Go Hard Elite and includes 2014 QB/DB Elijah Bell (Lexington Henry Clay), DB Emory Thompson* (Lexington Dunbar), 2016 QB Clay Bolin (Lexington Lafayette), WR Joby Embrey* (Meade County), RB/DB Phil Neal* (Louisville Doss), 2014 DB/RB Kylan Nelson (Lexington Lafayette), DB Nick Edge* (Lexington Dunbar), DB Glenn Spenser* (Lexington Bryan Station), and WR Jaron Locke*. Go Hard Elite lost their first round game in the double elimination tournament to Toronto's IDFFL team. The tournament was won by Team Tampa, the #7 seed who won this year's event for the second consecutive year.

Note: The players with the * beside their names are not in any recruiting data base that I can find. Perhaps participating in this event will bring some name recognition by the services.

Team Tampa won the Club Division. You can read what the Tampa Bay Times had to say about the local team winning the championship here.

One of the featured players on Team Tampa is UK recruit Artavis Scott. Scott, as you know, is one of Kentucky's prime targets. The Rivals (5.9) 4 star WR played on both sides of the line of scrimmage and was clearly one of the best athletes on the field. The Tarpon Springs East Lake HS player is the recipient of frequent contact from Drew Barker. Another contributor on Team Tampa is UK recruit Vincent Jackson. Jackson is a (5.7) 3 star LB who plays for Tampa Jesuit.

Other players, with Kentucky offers, who participated in this event:

Cam Newton All Stars (Atlanta, GA): Wesley Green, Lithonia, GA who is a (5.8) 4 star DB and also (5.5) 3 star LB Deshon Cooper from Decatur, GA.

Core 6 Athletes Red (Chicago, IL): Clifton Garrett, Plainfield, IL. Garrett is a (6.0) 4 star LB.

South Florida Fire (Miami, FL): (5.6) 3 star WR Isaiah McKenzie, Plantation, FL and (5.6) 3 star Safety Andre Godfrey, Jr., Miramar, FL

# 1 seed South Florida Express Elite (Miami, FL): (5.8) 4 star LB Richard Yeargin III, Ft. Lauderdale, FL and (5.8) 4 star DB Chris Lammons, Plantation, FL.

Central Florida Top Recruits (Orlando, FL): (5.7) 3 star Safety Kendall Gant, Lakeland, FL, (5.6) 3 star Safety Garrett Johnson, Winter Garden, FL and (5.5) 3 star LB Terrell Lewis, Ocoee, FL. Also 2015 recruit Jeff Holland, a RB from Jacksonville

I think it would be wise for Kentucky kids to participate in as many events and camps as possible so they can get their names out there in the recruiting world.

I spoke with an NFA7v7 representative and asked how he would compare 7v7 to the AAU. He was kind enough to provide this in response.

"7v7 football and AAU basketball share some similarities in terms of competition, but AAU is often viewed as diminishing the importance of high school basketball by competing with it directly," said an NFA7v7 spokesperson. "7v7 football is its own sport now, and complements the work football players do during the school year with their high school teams. With the growth of 7v7 football in recent years, we set out to bring structure, consistency and safety to the game, and look to maintain the purity of the sport and the environment in which it is played so that players can just focus on skill development and competing."

You can read more about IMG Academy and the NFA7v7 by clicking on the links below.

Links:

IMG Academy

NFA7v7

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