Welcome back to Phil for the Game, your glimpse into the sports community of Boone County.
I hope everyone is geared up for football season because our HD Media sports departments are getting in gear for our award-winning annual football special edition. I'll be producing preview stories for our three Boone County schools and I'll once again be contributing to the Charleston Gazette's coverage of Boone County prep football.
I'm going to step outside of the local box a little bit this week and talk about my old friend Adam Hill and what he's been up to.
Adam is a great football mind. My fellow Glenville State Football alumni spent some time as the offensive coordinator at Ripley High School and has coached the spread offense at the college and pro-level before taking a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their youth development division. My time as the sports editor at the Jackson Herald in Ripley allowed Adam and I to bond over a game we love and our families.
Adam, along with a group of others, works as a coach and trainer on the side in South Florida.
He's a busy man and has more than a few irons in the fire.
I caught up with Adam on the phone a couple of weeks ago after watching some video of a product he created and is manufacturing for mass production. The product can be used from youth football right up to the pros and concentrates on the footwork of offensive lineman.
"When I was coaching offensive line in college (Kentucky Christian University), most offensive line coaches have some kind of a board that they use and my guys would do about 10,000 board drills from the time they were freshmen until they were out of the program," Hill said. "I started noticing that as soon as they'd get on a sled and start driving against something, their feet would naturally come back together. Maintaining your baseline as an offensive lineman is where your balance and leverage comes from. So, finding a way to get kids to spread out is key. You've got to establish a wide base and be able to do it every time."
The former Arena Football League line coach decided to take the matter into his own hands and created his own board. He calls it The VersaBoard.
"I took a year off from coaching to create this board and develop a prototype," he said. "It's a process going through the patent process and finding a place to build it. "
The board is equipped with a strong surface area magnet and can attach to any piece of training equipment. The boards will be available for purchase in August as Hill and his associates will travel to football camps, coaching clinics and related events around the country to catch the eyes of offensive line coaches.
The boards will be available directly through Hill's web site.
"If any of your coaches want to see this thing in action, I will personally come to West Virginia and demonstrate it and talk to the coaches about how to
implement it into their routine," he said. "I don't need a reason to fly home to West Virginia for a visit and see my family in Ripley."
Hill went through a process in determining the size and materials.
"Most of the boards out there are standard 12-inch-wide boards, which is what ours is," he said. "Ours is a little longer because when you attach it to a sled, part of it is off of the ground. The good thing about my board is that it is as strong as the rubber board but mine is much lighter and mine rolls up for storage and transport. You can carry five of them in a duffle bag on and off the field. I own the utility patent for the system that magnetically attaches the board to the sleds."
Hill said that his warranty is simple. "You break it and I'll replace it," he said. "It's that simple. I have that much confidence in the quality. If you leave it out on the field and the field crew runs over it with a lawnmower, you're on your own."
Hill said that he was mindful of "safely detaching from the sled" as players will step on them and they will detach by design.
The boards will sell for $250 each and with a purchase of four, a fifth is given for free.
"My boards fall in line with what the other companies sell theirs for," he said. "I just have the added features you can't get anywhere else."Adam has current and former NFL players like Anthony Davis endorsing the product for him. The 9-year NFL pro gave me his thoughts."In my opinion the VersaBoard is the best o-line tool I have seen come out since I have been playing," Davis said. "No tool has the immediate impact that the Versaboard will have on its position. As a coach you have to do board drills, you have to do sled work. Nothing can mimic the resistance that a sled does, and now the coach isn’t just following the sled screaming (to) keep your base wide. The Versaboard will carry over your board drills to the sled. its genius.” George Selvie was a 7-year NFL player and a current coaching intern for the Dallas Cowboys.
“The VersaBoard is pretty amazing. The ability to train your base with resistance is important on both sides of the ball. Basically, you can connect it to anything without having to do any alterations to your equipment. I love the idea of attaching it to tackling sleds as well. Now I don’t have to train the bag holders as much as I train my players. I love the fact you don’t have to watch film on the drill to show the athlete he’s lost his base…if the boards disconnected you lost your base. Just awesome."
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.