When Chris Malleo was growing up in Wall, he remembers having to drive two to four hours to go to a football camp to receive top instruction and get collegiate exposure.
That’s why the former Wall star quarterback, who went on to play at Northwestern University, is bringing his own camp to the Jersey Shore. From July 14 to 16 at the Wall Pop Warner Football Complex, Malleo and a group of instructors (which also includes his former Northwestern teammate, current Eagles third-string quarterback Mike Kafka) will run the Three5Seven Passing Camp for offensive skill position players.
“Now everyone in the Jersey Shore can have something available to them right at their fingertips instead of having to make a long trip,’’ Malleo said. “I played in the Shore Conference, I love Shore Conference football, and I want to see these kids do well. We tried to price it so that it was really fair because for a lot of these camps out there it’s $600 for three days, which is a lot, especially in this economy.’’
The camp will be separated into three groups — fifth- through eighth-graders, freshmen and sophomores, and juniors and seniors. Intense instruction will be given for quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs and tight ends at all levels, with offensive drills to work on footwork, speed, movement in the pocket, throwing mechanics and more.
The cost is $285 per camper for the three-day session, and lunch will be provided. Interested campers can go to the website three5seven.com to register early, and Malleo said that the camp will accept walk-ups on the first day of the camp.
Malleo, 26, finished his career at Northwestern in the 2007 season after playing multiple positions, including quarterback and linebacker. At Wall, he was a quarterback who threw for 2,408 yards and 25 touchdowns in two seasons, leading the Crimson Knights to multiple division titles and a berth in a state sectional final before moving on to do a prep year at The Hun School of Princeton.
He looks to return to his roots with this camp, which will feature some current Ivy League players and also may feature several more NFL players depending on the current lockout situation, including a special guest. Current Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa, one of the top returning quarterbacks in the Big Ten this season, also will most likely make an appearance as a counselor. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Jersey Shore American Youth Football League.
The camp will be filmed so that participants can review their performance, and there will be a seminar on recruiting at the end.
“There is a lot you have to warn people about because people are confused about what constitutes interest and what doesn't,’’ Malleo said. “There will be a lot of guys there from big-time Division I schools, which will give the kids and parents the perspective of what it's like to be a Division I player. Every kid thinks they are a Division I football player, so I want them to understand the realistic expectations of where they can and can't play.’’
As for Malleo’s own career, after briefly playing with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, he now is playing quarterback for the Reading (Pa.) Express of the Indoor Football League. He feels that his experiences at that level will also help him better instruct the quarterbacks at the camp.
“It's such a different game because it’s so fast,’’ he said. “You have to really read coverages quickly. It’s made me a much better quarterback because I have to learn and read things much better.’’
His passion for playing quarterback has also informed his promotion of the camp, as he said that he and Kafka have personally visited almost every high school football coach in New Jersey to inform them about the camp. The hope is to make it a fixture on the annual summer calendar in the Jersey Shore.
“We’re trying to make it as substantial as possible, and not just rush you in, hand you a T-shirt and get you out of there,’’ Malleo said. “We want this to be an annual thing, and we are even looking at expanding it to be held at The Peddie School (in Hightstown) next year.’’