The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets ‘Authentic Camp’ toured the state for the third year in a row, visiting Midland’s Memorial Stadium Monday, L.D. Bell High School in Hurst and Whitehouse High School Tuesday, Pearland High School Wednesday and San Antonio MacArthur High School Thursday before making its final stop back on the HPU campus Friday.

“Any time you can get more than 400 student-athletes across the state of Texas with a Howard Payne shirt on, around our staff and exposing them to what Howard Payne University is all about, that’s a great positive for our program and our university for that matter,” said HPU third-year head coach Braxton Harris.

In the first two years of Harris’ tenure as head coach, 20 players — eight the first year and 12 the second — have made the decision to attend HPU after taking part in a camp.

As for the likelihood of the number again rising after this summer, Harris said, “I sure hope so, that’s the plan. We had a lot of quality kids that came to the camps. We’re looking for the complete student-athlete, not just the athlete. We saw a lot of kids come to camps that had good test scores already and we were able to tell them we want you to be a Yellow Jacket. We didn’t have to wait around, we had all the information we needed to make a decision.”

With Brownwood being located in the geographic center of Texas, Harris and the rest of the Yellow Jacket coaching staff places a strong emphasis on every area of the state — and bringing camps to different regions further expresses HPU’s desire to welcome new student-athletes to the program.

“We got to see a lot of great athletes throughout the state and we made sure they understand that we want them to be Yellow Jackets,” Harris said. “Any time you get around those guys who look good on film, and get to work with them, you get to see how that kid responds to coaching. It allows us to be able to evaluate them, see if they’re a good fit for us personality-wise, and let them evaluate us and see if we’re a good fit for them. We call them Authentic Camps because we want them to see everything at Howard Payne. You see the recruiting and also what that coach is like on the football field and it gives them a peek at how would it be to play for that guy.”

Camp concluded in Brownwood Friday, which allowed those campers in attendance even greater exposure to what potential life as a Yellow Jacket football player would be like.

“It’s always good in your own backyard to have local kids come and see your campus,” Harris said. “Sometimes local kids are the hardest to recruit, so this allows those kids to get some exposure to Howard Payne. They’re able to see HPU as an option and hopefully we’re able to get them back on campus in the fall and eventually make them Yellow Jackets.”

Howard Payne will report for preseason practice on Aug. 14 with the 2019 season opener set for Sept. 7 at Austin College.