By Joseph Garcia
Liberty Hill Junior High seventh grader Jeffery Paul Madison Jr. is making the jump to a University – Football University.
Football University (FBU) reaches and teaches thousands of the nation’s youth and high school players throughout the camp’s 40-city annual tour. The camp travels the country to train players hand-picked by the organization’s network of regional directors and scouts.
FBU’s faculty includes more than 100 former NFL and collegiate players and coaches who give hands on instruction to the selected players. Once a player in chosen, he receives an invitation to attend FBU’s elite Top Gun Camp in Williamsburg, Virginia, at Warhill High School and Sports Complex.
Madison was hand-picked to attend the Top Gun Youth Camp July 23-25 after FBU held camp at Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock March 23-25.
All athletes must have been in sixth-eighth grades during the 2011-2012 school year to participate in the Top Gun Youth Camp.
Only a sixth grader at the time, Madison, an offensive and defensive lineman, faced competition from mainly seventh and eighth graders. But despite getting knocked down a few times by bigger, older players, the youngest kid on the field showed something to instructors.
Madison’s attitude, competitiveness and will prompted former NFL Pro Bowl offensive lineman and FBU instructor Jerry Sisemore to give the kid from Liberty Hill a stamp of approval and an official invite to the very selective FBU Top Gun Youth Camp.
“The day that (Cedar Ridge FBU Camp) ended, they talk to you and tell you how you did,” explained Madison. “There is a bubble list and they see how many people are going, but then there is a Top Gun invite where you go automatically.”
Madison received the automatic invite.
Sisemore, a college football Hall of Famer and former Philadelphia Eagle, saw potential in Madison, a 12-year-old. In fact, he was the only youth player selected from the Cedar Ridge camp to attend Top Gun.
“The NFL coach that they bring down has to recommend you and he was the only one in his age group that got recommended,” said Madison’s father, Jeffery. “(Jerry) Sisemore was the one (who recommended him).”
Almost all of FBU’s instructors currently train, on a private basis, NFL and college athletes preparing for the NFL Combine and the NFL Draft. FBU uses an invitation policy to organize the camp with similar talent, making for a better instructional setting.
Football University, producers of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, is an invitation-only experience for the serious football player, focusing on teaching technique and skill in a small-group setting with other top athletes. FBU was founded as a premier educational football camp for an elite class of football players who have already demonstrated their high-level football ability, seriousness for the game, and have chosen football as their primary sport.
A student of the game, Madison is eager to soak up as much football knowledge as possible.
“(I look forward) to just learning so much more than I have been just playing Pop Warner,” he said. “The first time I went to (FBU camp) I learned so much more and had so much fun. (I will) get to see what (my) competition is throughout the whole country so that’s kind of cool. The things that they teach you will apply to every season of your career and that’s really good. They work on everything. They also work with the parents, too, and talk about recruiting and coaching.”
At the Top Gun Youth Camp, invitees will have three full days of training and individual instruction that includes meetings by position. Two-thirds of the time campers will be on the field training, the other time is spent in the classroom learning.
“They videotape everything you are doing and then your technique is broken down by an NFL position coach,” Madison Sr. said. “They put your picture on the overhead on what you are doing wrong or right.”
The seventh grader’s commitment to the game is evident with the amount of football-related activities he has done this summer. And it’s nowhere near over.
He works out twice a day to maintain his high motor and strength, and works with a personal trainer four days a week to assist with heavy weightlifting.
“I’ve been doing a lot of camps,” Madison said. “It’s been pretty busy with me working out and stuff.”
Madison will have support from his whole family at Top Gun Youth Camp as the entire clan will make the trip to Williamsburg and will be there for eight days.
J. Paul is the oldest of four children in the Madison family. His younger brother, Henry, also an athlete, is 11 years old and will be in sixth grade. His two sisters, Montgomery, age 8, and Merrill, age 6, and his mother Ashley are all following big brother to the elite football camp.
But once Madison returns from the East coast, he will get right back to work as he will attend Coach Jerry Vance’s Panthers State Championship Football Camp July 30-August 3.
So why does Madison like football so much?
“I like hitting a lot,” he said with a smirk. “I like knocking people down and stuff. It’s pretty fun.”
Already intact with the mentality of any good lineman, Madison, whose favorite subject in school is history, has the goal of making a mark himself.
“In high school I would like to win a State Championship,” Madison said. “And then get on a (Division I) football team and start. That will be fun.”