After competing with more than 650 players attending three St. Louis Rams summer camps, three metro-east players made the cut for the squad leaving for Indianapolis on Thursday morning.
O'Fallon High School seniors Darius Mosely and Greg Gibson were two of 12 players from the St. Louis region chosen to play for the Rams' entry at the 2012 NFL 7-on-7 National Tournament.
"It was a great honor to be selected," said Mosely, an Illinois recruit who is one of the top defensive backs in the state. "I'm learning the plays and how they're calling things and I've caught on pretty quick."
Mosely will start on both sides of the ball at receiver and defensive back, just as he does at O'Fallon. Gibson will do the same thing.
"Having somebody I know like that going along with me is great," Mosely said.
Wesclin High senior Chris Watkins was one of only six players selected from the St. Louis area to participate in the inaugural NFL Linemen Leadership Program.
Rams team coaches are former Mater Dei High and McKendree University player Kyle Eversgerd, the Rams' Fan Development Coordinator, and Elite Football Academy President Matt Biermann.
"The camps are great, but on top of that you're making selections for the team and you're watching kids, making sure they're good kids on and of the field, checking with their coaches on their character and things like that," Eversgerd said.
Eversgerd has been able to help grow the Rams' High School Development Program in a big way since being hired three years ago.
"I kind of took that and ran with it," said Eversgerd, who ran camps at Belleville West in 2010 and 2011 and this year helped run the metro-east camp at O'Fallon. "We've doubled our numbers every year. It's character development and most high school kids when they go to camps they're looking for the cool factor, but this is a free camp with NFL players as instructors.
"We went from 120 kids the first year to 350 last year and this year we had over 650, so we're definitely growing and hope to have a camp every June."
Players attending the camps also received a free Nike jersey and a schedule planner from the NCAA and National Guard. Players selected to compete at the national tournament and linemen program received free trips and a chance to compete against some of the top players in the country.
The lineman program emphasizes classroom, community and leadership and players will participate in extensive programs this weekend in Indianapolis.
They also will compete in an obstacle course program led by the Indiana National Guard. The Rams' linemen group will be coached by former Rams player Todd Steussie.
Among other activities planned for the players are a tour of the NCAA Hall of Champions and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
There is a round-robin 7-on-7 tournament on Friday and a single-elimination tourney Saturday, highlighted by the championship game.
Rams tight end Michael Hoomanawanui attended the O'Fallon High camp, which was held last month and attracted more than 150 players.
Eversgerd said the Rams try to work with the high school teams to avoid taking away from the summer contact days and other summer programs being run by the high school coaches.
He said the camps are among the most fun aspects of his job with the local NFL team, although that job also included spending time at Rams quarterback Sam Bradford's summer camp this week in Oklahoma. Later this summer he'll be in California at a camp sponsored by former Rams star running back Eric Dickerson.
"On a personal level it's very humbling for me to have this job, growing up playing football at Mater Dei and McKendree and everything," Eversgerd said. "It's a free camp, it's the Rams and there's a lot of life lessons that we try to teach the players. This is absolutely the most favorite part of my job."
Not all NFL teams are as involved in the summer camp and selection process for the national tournament as the Rams. Eversgerd said some other teams hold 7-on-7 tournaments with the winning high school chosen to attend the NFL tourney.
"There's very few teams that host camps and that have coaches and players and alumni that come out," Eversgerd said. "Our entire staff has bought into this."
That includes new Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who met with the 7-on-7 team last week at a practice.
"He said 'You're my second team, you're going to Indianapolis to represent the Rams,' -- and that stuff really rings home with the kids," Eversgerd said.
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.