Asked if he knows who Goose and Maverick were, Baker Douglas flashed a grin and said, “Yeah, I’ve seen that one. Top Gun!”
It’s refreshing to know at least one 17 year old is still aware of the Tom Cruise fighter-jet epic, circa 1986, released in theatres 12 years before Douglas was born.
But that’s not the Top Gun he really wanted to talk about.
Douglas, a star wideout on the GW Graham varsity football squad, is excited about the football version — a mid-July gathering of the best of the best in high school football in Dublin, OH.
Douglas earned his invite to Top Gun with a flawless performance at a Football University (FBU) camp, held the last weekend of May in Seattle, WA.
He was one of just three receivers taken from the 40 who attended, out-performing players from AAAA and AAAAA schools in Washington State, Oregon and Idaho.
It was a three day camp with a heavy emphasis on technique.
The Chilliwack kid didn’t even catch a ball on day one, spending all his time on fundamentals and classwork.
Day two focused on footwork followed by drills on route running and beating press coverage.
“Then we went to three-on-twos and seven-on-sevens, and that’s kind of where I shine,” Douglas said. “I was able to get separation from most of the defensive backs I faced and catch the ball when I needed to.”
Day three was a show-off day, and a chance for Douglas to make one final impression on FBU evaluators.
“Charlie Collins worked with the (NFL’s San Francisco) 49ers and (Cincinnati) Bengals and (New York) Giants, and he’s one of the top receiver coaches in the nation,” Douglas explained. “He filled out a bunch of evaluation sheets for me afterwards showing good footwork, great catching and great ball security.”
“He also said my football IQ was off the charts,” Douglas added proudly.
It was the second year Douglas attended this camp, facilitated by NCSA Athletics Recruiting.
Douglas, who will graduate from GW Graham next June, has been working with NCSA to find post-secondary opportunities, and they recommended FBU.
“As far as I know, the only way you can get there is through an NCSA invite,” Douglas said. “If you do well enough you get invited to Top Gun, and then hopefully the Army Bowl.”
The Army Bowl is an annual showcase game for high school stars that lists among its alumni NFL stars like Andrew Luck, Jamaal Charles, Patrick Peterson, Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham Jr., DeMarco Murray, Eric Berry, LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins.
That’s in Texas in early January and it’s the ultimate dream. But just getting to Top Gun is a massive achievement.
“Getting the Top Gun invite makes me a candidate for a lot of the programs I’ve been looking at,” said Douglas, who’s already had an unofficial visit to Willamette University (Salem, OR) and has been offered a visit to Puget Sound University (Tacoma, WA).
Douglas has watched former GWG teammates go through the university process. At his position, Jake Creasey graduated and went on to the university of Manitoba.
Last season, it was Treyvon Walsh committing to the University of Alberta.
“I don’t have all the details, but as far as I know I think they both paved their own way to get where they are,” Douglas said. “The recruiting agency has helped tremendously, putting me out there for any school to see. My height and weight. My academics, grades, stats and all that. They’ve made it significantly easier than it would have been if I tried to do it myself.”
Douglas mentioned division two earlier, which is a realistic goal.
“Collins said I could be a valuable asset for any Div 2 team in the United States,” the teenager said. “I think I matched up fairly well against the other guys I saw in Seattle. Most guys were around my size and skill level, and I think my technique gave me an edge on some of them.”
Douglas hopes a strong showing at Top Gun will spring-board him into the 2015 high school season with his Grizzlies.
Ranked second among all varsity teams in BC, GWG is taking aim at a provincial crowd.
Douglas would be a big part of any title march.
“I’d like to spend the season hitting the gym, getting stronger and more explosive,” he said. “Team wise, next season will be successful if we work together to get that championship.”