Saturday, June 25, 2022

Former regional football standouts to host summer camp for high school prospects

Brad Roach, former backup quarterback for the NFL Baltimore Ravens, left center wearing a black hat and cut-off tee, is hosting his second skills camp. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Brad Roach)

WILMINGTON — Former NFL back-up quarterback Brad Roach is getting ready to host his second skills camp for regional high school football players looking for exposure with college coaches.

The Film to Field camp will take place June 19 at Legion Stadium, featuring 16 former NFL and college football players, according to Roach.

He’s teaming up alongside his brother, Kevin Roach, who played wide receiver at East Carolina University. The duo is looking to grow the camp’s operations and reach after last year’s inaugural one-day camp and 7-on-7 fall league, bringing in coaches for each major position and opening it to both offensive and defensive players. (Last year, only quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tide ends were invited.) 

“Every coach I have coming in either has NFL experience or played at the college level,” Roach said Tuesday afternoon. 

The coaches include:

  • Tarence Williams, former standout running back at both Laney High School and Wake Forest University; 
  • Dobson Collins, who played for Gardner Webb University in Boiling Springs before a journeyman career in the NFL and the Canadien Football League; 
  • Former Virginia Tech offensive lineman and NFL journeyman Nick Becton;
  • Jared Barber, former linebacker at West Virginia University and the Carolina Panthers;
  • Jay Sonnhalter, former East Carolina University tight end and a member of the NFL’s The Washington Football Team;
  • Former UNC Pembroke wide receiver Donald Britt;
  • Former Cincinnati University running back Adam Fearing; 
  • Former Catawba College tight end Shane Timmons (now head coach at Randleman High School near Greensboro;
  • Daniel Yow, former offensive lineman at Catawba College and current head coach at South Rowan High School;
  • Steven Williams, former defensive lineman at Catawba College and coach at Hough High School.

And of course there’s Brad Roach leading it all. 

The 6’6″ 250-pound quarterback from Williamston played Division II ball at Catawba College in Salisbury, about 25 miles south of Winston-Salem. Roach, a graduate from Catawba, ranked number two all-time at the school in passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage.

In 2008, he signed with the NFL Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent, rooming with future starter Joe Flacco during training camp; during his career Flacco has racked up 40,000 passing yards and won the Super Bowl MVP in 2013.

“He was smart, never in trouble, always studying, quiet — I liked him,” Roach said of his former roommate.

After a short stint in Baltimore, Roach played a couple years in the Canadian Football League and the AF2 Arena Football League. In 2010, he retired after injuring his shoulder and later entered the medical device industry, where he ultimately found a job in Wilmington.

In the summer of 2019, he and best friend Matt Sossamon started a high school recruiting company called Film to Field, focusing on teaching quarterbacks “how to watch film, what they learn from it, and taking it to the field,” according to Roach. He later began teaching other positions with the ultimate goal of giving talented players more exposure to college recruiters.

“The City of Wilmington and the surrounding area is so untapped in terms of football talent,” Roach said. “It’s hard to get college coaches down here because we’re so far from many colleges in the state.”

But the more he contacts coaches at schools like Catawba College, he believes more and more coaches will begin making the trip.

“We’re two small-town guys and we love to help parents and kids, especially those from small towns in other areas, to understand what it takes to be a college athlete, what coaches are looking for, and get them more exposure,” Sossamon added.

Last March, Roach was invited as a coach to the Elite 11 camp, the nation’s most high profile quarterbacks camp, headed by former NFL great Trent Dilfer. 

“It was just a bigtime experience for me, as far as growing as a person and quarterback coach,” Roach said.

And he was recently hired as head of player development for G.E.M. Class Recruiting out of Virginia Beach. According to Roach, this job will help bring additional exposure to athletes who attend his summer skills camp – with his connection to G.E.M., he has exposure to every college coach in the nation, he said.

The camp comes on the heels of a larger-than expected fall 7-on-7 league that featured 92 regional players (a group from New Hanover High won the league).

There will also be a youth football skills camp on June 5 at Legion Stadium. The youth camp will be led by Roach, Williams, Mike Young of Under Armour’s Under the Lights flag football program, and Andre Thompkins, founder of Dre’s Football and Leadership Academy.

Roach, who’s wife is 5’10”, said he hopes his son will play ball someday. He certainly has the genes.

“He just turned two and people think he’s 4 or 5,” Roach said.

Players in first to eighth grade and in high school can sign up for the camps here (registration near bottom of home page).

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