Quarterback Jeff Van Camp is prepared to make his mark on the Owl's 2009 season
Junior Jeff Van Camp, was introduced to the game of football at an early age. When he was offered a scholarship to play for Florida Atlantic, it gave him the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps of playing football at the collegiate level.
Jeff’s father, Jeff Van Camp Sr., played defensive end for the University of Louisville from 1980-81. His playing days were cut short after sustaining a knee injury; ending what might have been a promising college career. After recovery, athleticism lead him to become a Pro Wrestler in the mid 80’s. Armed with a "bad boy" persona as Lord Humongous (1984), he tussled with guys like Jake “The Snake”, and did manage to gain a few title belts along the way. One of his title belt came at the hands of Jody Hamilton (owner of Deep South Wrestling) to win the NWA Southeast Continental Heavyweight Championship.
Van Camp Sr. might have done the "bad boy" image in the ring, but he is clearly a good guy outside the ring. And any wrestling he might be doing these days involves taking down the bad guys as a Deputy Sheriff. Currently, he is running for Sheriff of Santa Rosa County.
Jeff credits his father as inspiration for playing the game. "He got me started early, and helped me understand the game of football”.
Van Camp understands his role, and what it means, while having to play behind a player like Rusty Smith. “If I had to sit and stay behind a QB it would be him. I’ve learned a lot from him, he does all the little things". And the knowledge being passed down is starting to sink in - Van Camp is starting to feel the benefits of having Rusty as a team mate.
There seems to be a certain point in a player’s development where he reaches maturity as a player, and Van Camp’s transformation seems to have occurred during the off-season. Jeff Brohm, the new Quarterback coach, has made an immediate impact with Van Camp. “ He is a really great coach, helped me out with my footwork and my accuracy, and is very knowledgeable about the quarterback position, he’s a great coach and he’s just going to do good things for FAU”.
The lack of playing time has done little to dwarf Van Camp's passion for a game he has been around for most of his life. “I’m not one to complain about it and truly, I will be ready when coach wants me to play and get the job done, if it’s not my time then I will continue to work harder”, said Van Camp.
During the off-season Van Camp spent time studying Schnellenberger's pro-style offense hard both on and off the field. “I wanted to get to know the play book better than I did … I think that’s what really helped me out through out the spring and to have a better understanding of the offense and learning more about what I’m doing out there has really helped me with my confidence”, said Van Camp.
The investment has also given Van Camp an opportunity to get to know his teammates better. The extra time spent with his receivers is starting to pay dividends. And he is having more fun playing the game as well. “Our timing has gotten much better as we are getting more comfortable with what we are doing out there and you can see the results”.
It would have been easy for VanCamp to succumb to the frustrations of the limited role he played last season, but he was determined to work harder heading into spring, and made sure to take full advantage of the extra snaps extended to him by the coaches during practices.
Last season might have been an abnormality. Schnellenberger usually likes to develop his back-up quarterbacks by playing them early in the second quarter - something he has done since his days at Miami. Yet, last season was anything but normal. The team struggled on the field and which had a direct impact as to why Van Camp did not get normal opportunities. This is something that the coaches will try to rectify this season.
With Smith being a senior it becomes even more important to give Van Camp more reps in game time situations. Just how many reps will probably depend on game time situations, but will be vital to ensure that he is ready to take over the helm in 2010.
Currently, he is untested under center in game time situations. And having to follow a player that continues to redefine the standards fans have now come to expect from the quarterback position may seem unfair. However, the bar to meet has been raised.
Fittingly, he uses this as motivation to push himself harder; while realizing that fans know how good Rusty has become, and what they expect. “I will be working that much harder to try and live up to that”, said van Camp.
“He had a very good spring, we now know that we can win games if he where pressed into action”, said Coach Schnellenberger about the progress made by Van Camp.
When the coach expresses their confidence, it can only help elevate confidence outlook heading into the upcoming season.
“Coach Schnellenberger has coached some really good quarterbacks. For him to have confidence in me, and coach Jackson and Coach Brohm, definitely helped me out a lot. Hopefully, I can live up to their expectations”
Van Camp will have one year to prove himself. Does this put any additional pressure on him? Maybe. But the position alone requires a certain mental toughness.
He appears poised and confident to lead the Owls in 2009 when called upon.