Big 10

Michigan football players glad NCAA heard their voice in satellite camp debate

May 7, 2016

ANN ARBOR — For Jourdan Lewis, the entire situation was personal.

Lewis, Michigan’s senior All-American cornerback, saw the NCAA Division I Council’s original decision to ban satellite camps in early April and wondered how it would have impacted him several years prior.

A Detroit native, Lewis began attending the annual Sound Mind Sound Body camp early on in his football career. And while his natural talent may have been enough to eventually land him a scholarship at a Big Ten school, the now star corner says he’s not so sure he’d have had the same opportunities if it weren’t for that initial exposure early on.

“That’s where a lot of us began, at Wayne State as freshmen and eighth graders at the Sound Mind Sound Body (camp),” said Lewis, who played high school ball at Cass Tech. “That’s where a lot of us got our first chance to compete against some of the guys in the midwest.

“That’s where we got our first exposure to big schools like Michigan and stuff. For that to be something that possibly couldn’t have happened this year, that’s really personal for guys like me and (Iowa corner and Detroit native) Desmond King. … It was a big deal to me.”

Lewis — along with several other Michigan players — were very vocal on social media throughout April, right up until the NCAA Board of Directors overturned the camp at the end of the month.

Current Michigan players like Lewis, Khalid Hill, David Dawson and Shane Morris were all very vocal about how the Sound Mind Sound Body camp impacted their lives and led to better things for them.

They were joined by tight end Jake Butt, who wanted to make it clear to his teammates and other student-athletes that they can use their voice when they feel the need.

“I think sometimes we can get lost a little bit, but we do have a voice,” Butt said last month. “We are the athletes, we are one of the driving forces that gets the NCAA to run. Sometimes I feel like we aren’t heard as much as possible, especially with these satellite camps.

“I think it’s stripping the opportunity from a lot of young kids that don’t have the chance to get out there and see some of these programs and get one-on-one coaching with some of these coaches across the country. I really looked at it as ‘who is really winning in this situation?’ “

Lewis began using the Twitter hashtag “#ChangeNCAA” shortly after the initial ban was announced.

He spoke about the issue with current teammates and other friends across the country.

He also spoke with Curtis Blackwell, Michigan State’s recruiting coordinator — and one of the Sound Mind Sound Body founders.

“Me and Desmond, he got offered late to Iowa and Iowa saw him at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp (and now he’s an All-American),” Lewis said. “And you never know if he’d have gotten that without (the camp). It has a big impact on kids in Detroit. … Coach Blackwell, the guy who got it started, and even though he’s at Michigan State — he asked me if I could voice my opinion about the situation and tell people how important it was.”

In the end, Lewis says the decision to be proactive was worth his time.

No one can be sure how much of an impact student-athletes had on the NCAA’s decision to change the ruling. But either way, he says it was nice to see something happen that will benefit future players.

“With social media you never know how big of an impact it really has until you actually provoke a change, it was good to see we had a voice and maybe progressed that change,” he said. “It was a good feeling to see they reversed that.

“It was a little outlandish to just ban high school camps like that. … I just found it gratifying to see that they reversed it.”

— Follow MLive’s Michigan coverage on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
— Subscribe to “The Wolverine Beat” podcast on iTunes

Read Full Article