For five Payson High School athletes, the University of Nebraska Cornhusker football camp represented a Big Red opportunity to mold themselves into better players.
"That's what we went there for," Billy Bob Hoyt, one of the campers, said. The Payson crew attended the camp June 3 to 5 on the campus of U of N in Lincoln.
Accompanying Hoyt on the gridiron jaunt to the land of Cornhuskers were Larry Wilbanks, Kevin Moran, Tyler Danielson and Alex Vlahapolous.
All five who have played together since they were eighth graders at Rim Country Middle School were members of last year's Longhorn freshman team which compiled a 6-3 record.
Attending the Cornhusker camp was originally Hoyt's idea. Hoyt isa lifelong Nebraska fan. Prior to moving to Payson, Hoyt's family lived only an hour's drive from the Nebraska campus.
Although he's lived in the Rim country several years now, his allegiance to Nebraska remains strong. For proof, check out his wardrobe almost any item you find will don a Cornhusker logo.
To raise the money needed to attend the camp and purchase airline tickets, the teenagers held a benefit car wash last month.
The event, coupled with other benefits, earned them enough money to make the jaunt.
At the camp, the Payson players and an athlete from Phoenix were the only Arizona representatives in attendance.
"We were kind of different because most of (the campers) were from the Midwest," Hoyt said.
The camp routine included a 7 a.m. wake-up call, breakfast in the university cafeteria at 7:30 a.m. and a rigorous practice session from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
After lunch, coaches huddled with the about 150 players to discuss the importance of academics on the college scene and give tips on how to be accepted into a university.
"That was a lot of mental stuff," Hoyt said.
A second practice session was held from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. in which proper offensive and defensive techniques were taught by the Cornhusker staff and several of the players.
The evening hours were highlighted by passing league games under the lights of the University of Nebraska stadium.
When the games were over, the players kicked back on the stadium's artificial turf to enjoy Cornhusker football highlights on the jumbo-tron screen.
Also during the camp, the players were tested in the 10- and 40-yard dashes as well as vertical jump and agility.
Performance indexes were then given to the players to help them evaluate and improve their physical abilities.
The camp was demanding, Hoyt said, but "also a lot of fun."
All five youngsters say they are certain the skills they learned at camp will help them become candidates for a starting positions on next season's Longhorn junior varsity team.
Hoyt will be looking to make an impact as a running back and defensive back. Wilbanks is a receiver and defensive back.
Danielson, Moran and Vlahapolus play on the offensive and defensive lines.