Regional: Vail Summer Football Camp returns in July with Colorado Mesa University coach on roster |

Regional: Vail Summer Football Camp returns in July with Colorado Mesa University coach on roster

Former University of Colorado quarterback Darian Hagan, who led the Buffaloes to the national championship and is now on the CU coaching staff, is one of the coaches for this year's Vail Summer Football Camp.
Special to the Free Press |

Vail Summer Football Camp

Monday-Thursday, July 14-17, at Battle Mountain High School

Featured Coaches

Troy Calhoun: Head coach, Air Force Academy

John L. Smith: Head coach, Fort Lewis College

Jas Bain: Head coach, Western State Colorado University

Earnest Collins: Head coach, University of Northern Colorado

Marty Heaton: Head coach, Adams State University

Russ Martin: Head coach, Colorado Mesa University

Brian Cabral: Associate head coach and defensive coordinator, Indiana State University and longtime linebacker coach at the University of Colorado

Al Simmons: Co-defensive coordinator, Colorado State University

Daren Wilkinson: Offensive coordinator, CSU-Pueblo

Trevor Wikre: Offensive line coach, University of Northern Colorado

Andre Strode: Defensive Analyst, Colorado State University

Darian Hagan: Director of player development, University of Colorado

CU quarterback for their national championship team, former professional players and CU quarterback coach Tom Ehlers: Director of football operations at Colorado State University

Price: $100 for grades 2-5, $125 for grades 6-12. There is a $5 discount for pre-registration, another $5 discount if 2-4 teammates enroll and a $10 discount if 5 or more teammates enroll.

Preregistration: Go to, or call Backhus at 970-471-0440

A certified athletic trainer will be on the field throughout the camp. Video of individual 6-12th grade players will be reviewed daily with the players and coaches after practice.

Some of the top college head coaches headline this year’s Vail Summer Football Camp roster, topped by Air Force Academy head coach Troy Calhoun.

“The coaching staff is set, and it’s a good one,” said Tom Backhus, who has run the camp for two decades.

About the camp

The four-day camp features non-pad technique instruction, and youth coaches are invited to come to the camp and be on the field to pick the brains of the college coaches during the camp. It’s free for the coaches, Backhus said.

“That’s open to coaches at any level, youth leagues, middle school, high school — any coach at any level,” Backhus said. “Coaches can ask questions about technique and training, drills and anything else, while players are getting excellent instruction from top-flight coaches.”

The camp breaks players into two sessions for players in grades two through five and six through 12.

Every player plays every position in the session for the younger kids.

“Even the short kids get to play quarterback, and that’s something I completely understand,” said Backhus, who won a national championship at Ohio State and played under Woody Hayes.

The practices for the older kids are broken down into positions and videoed, and they finish the session by watching those videos to improve their technique, Backhus said.

The younger kids go in the morning, the older kids in the afternoon.

About the coaches

Calhoun has made the Air Force Academy football program one of the best in the Mountain West Conference. Calhoun’s five teams are a combined 29-18 in the Mountain West Conference and 47-31 overall. Air Force had posted three straight losing seasons from 2004-2006 before his arrival. His 29 wins in the MWC are the most in school history in a six-year span.

John Lewis, former head coach at Michigan State and Arkansas, is currently coaching the Fort Lewis College Skyhawks.

Brian Cabral is the Indiana State head coach and the University of Colorado’s former linebackers coach.

Darian Hagan quarterbacked the University of Colorado to its only national championship in 1990. Hagan became the sixth player in NCAA Division I-A to gain more than 1,000 yards passing and more than 1,000 yards rushing in the same season. After his professional playing career, he settled in as CU’s director of player development.

Backhus started his coaching career on Hayes’ Ohio State staff, and he continued coaching there when Earle Bruce took over as the head coach after Hayes retired.

Backhus followed Bruce to coach on the staffs at the University of Tampa and then Iowa State. Backhus left Bruce when he went to the University of Wisconsin.

Bill Parcells hired Backhus at the Air Force Academy to be the Cadets’ offensive line coach, and eventually the offensive coordinator.

After the Air Force Academy, Backhus coached at Notre Dame.

He landed in Vail after the Notre Dame stint. He started visiting the valley when he was with the Air Force Academy.

When he left coaching, he moved up here full-time. Among other things, he and his wife, Tess, ran 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott.

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