SALT LAKE CITY — When Alema Te'o started the All-Poly Camp 14 years ago he never envisioned that it would become what it is today.
"It started out as a backyard deal and every year we've doubled our numbers into what you see today," Te'o says. "It's been amazing."
The camp was started as an alternative for local Polynesian kids who could not afford to go to expensive, out-of-state camps. It has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the elite high school football camps in the country. It's alumni includes several NFL players including Paul Kruger, Star Lotulelei, Manti Te'o and Kerwynn Williams.
"I really love this camp. It's the best camp in the nation," said Jackson Barton, an offensive tackle from Brighton high school who is committed to play at Utah. "I would not trade another opportunity to go anywhere other than this camp."
The reputation established over the years has led to not just in-state coaches attending the camp but now dozens of assistant and head coaches from elite programs around the country pay a visit each June. That in turn has led to an increase in talent attending the camp hoping to impress college coaches and earn scholarship offers. Players from Hawaii, California and even Florida travel to Utah to attend the camp.
"Big time talent," said Utah State head coach Matt Wells. "Big time camp and a lot of talent."
The talent isn't limited to the players. The three day camp features instruction from college coaches.
"We've got multiple coaches per position," Te'o said. "Anywhere between four and five college coaches at each position working with these kids independently and giving them the latest technique in the game of football."
There is more to the camp than just football. The athletes receive instruction in academics, NCAA clearing house rules and life skills.
"They don't only teach me football," said Stansbury defensive tackle Allan Havili who is committed to Utah. "They teach you about becoming a better person in life and everything like that. It's one of the things that I like."
It's the combination of all these aspects of the All-Poly Camp that make it so intriguing to college coaches that are looking for players who are the right fit for their program.
"You're looking for a camp that has a lot of passion and energy to it and quality athletes that have college potential," said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. "It's just good to see kids out at a camp, enjoying it, and making the effort to improve themselves as football players."
"It think when you keep it real simple and it's about the players and making it right for them from a teaching standpoint, from a learning standpoint and from an evaluation standpoint then it helps these kids out," Wells said.
The talent level and the competition is evident once visit one of the sessions at the All-Poly Camp. As it continues to produce elite FBS football players and now NFL players the interest in the camp is only going to continue to grow.
"When you come here you're going to be matched up with someone who will play in the NFL or big time college football somewhere," Te'o said. "If you're looking for competition, if you're looking to get after it, hey, we are the best place in the country right now."