S.C. AAU Football

Ages: 8U, 10U, 12U

Information: newlifefootball.com, Beady Waddell (843) 568-3009 or scaaufootball@gmail.com

braswell@postandcourier.com

Beady Waddell is a big believer in South Carolina's football talent. He would like the youth in this state to get a head start on developing that talent, and so he's excited about bringing AAU football here.

Waddell, a former Stall High School quarterback who played college football at Tuskegee University before transferring to Charleston Southern, is the AAU district chairman and expects to field teams across the state this fall.

"I feel like South Carolina has the same talent as Texas, Florida and California but our grassroots programs aren't as strong," Waddell said. "We want to develop the youth and feed them into the high school programs. Now, coaches have to coach them up, and by the time they coach them up they're juniors and seniors and they're not getting that much production from them.

"With AAU football, we'll have ninth-graders walking in that are varsity ready. By the 10th grade, they will be getting scholarship offers and helping teams win state championships. That's what we want to see happen in the Lowcountry and across South Carolina, have them walk in the door in ninth grade ready for varsity football."

Waddell expects to field six teams across the state this year. There will be 25-player 8U; 25-player 10U; and 25-player 12U teams with cheerleaders. He also expects to have high-level coaches, some who have played in the NFL or college. Former Citadel and Washington Redskins player Nehemiah Broughton has signed on to help, Waddell said. So have former Charleston Southern stars Jada Ross and Jonna Lee.

The concept of developing youth football players sounds noble, but some coaches are wary given what has happened with AAU basketball and baseball, which some feel flourished to the detriment of high school athletics.

"I know they have the best interests of the kids right now, but it's down the road that worries me," said Fort Dorchester football coach and athletic director Steve LaPrad. "I hope AAU keeps their word and helps the younger kids. When they start getting into high school ages, that's going to be a problem. I think AAU basketball was the same way when it started. Now it's really out of control. Beady's a good guy. I think he wants to do a good job, so we're backing him right now and hope things go in the right direction."

Orangeburg Prep football coach Brock Miller, the former head coach and athletic director at Colleton Prep, likes the idea and also is helping to defray equipment costs through his sporting goods company, Synergy Sports.

Miller, the father of two young boys, said he felt that with the advent of travel baseball and basketball that football was being left out. In researching a North Carolina AAU football team, he came across Waddell's name and contacted him.

"I didn't know Beady from anybody. I started going to meetings. He is organized and wants this thing to be first class. He has a passion for youth football in South Carolina," Miller said.

Miller said as a private school coach, this would allow his players to compete at a higher level.

"I'm a firm believer," Miller said. "I believe it's going to be a great, great opportunity for the kids."