MANATEE -- This weekend's IMG 7v7 National Championship is the culmination of more than 40 qualifying tournaments across the country.
Now in its fourth year, the tournament brings 36 club teams composed of high school players and a Future STARS division made up of middle school players to create the largest field in the event's history. The event is free and open to the public.
"It's the best of the best of high school football," IMG director of events Blake Ulrich said. "The talent level will actually be higher than it has in years past. With a top team in the West Coast coming ... and we've increased the number of teams from the Midwest and the Northeast, and we also have the contingent of the Southeast that comes every year, the talent will be better than ever."
That top West Coast team, B2G 5-Star, possesses the combination of quarterback Brady White (committed to Arizona State) and wide receiver Trent Irwin (offers from several Division I programs, including Penn State, Stanford and California).
They are just a couple highly recruited players participating this weekend.
Tarpon Springs East Lake's George Campbell, who is the No. 2 rated wide receiver in 247 Sports Composite Rankings for the Class of 2015, is a member of Team Tampa. That club is the two-time defending national champions.
IMG's football director Chris Weinke said this weekend's tournament allows players to continue to build upon their skill sets against top competition.
One position, quarterback, gets the chance to work without a pass rush. However, the signal-callers don't have the entire day to wait for an open receiver. There's a play clock they are fighting to get rid of the ball.
"The game is fast-paced, so we're working in a small area and, in essence, you are developing your red-zone skills," Weinke said. "It's an opportunity to be able to work on your rhythm and timing, work on being able to throw the ball with anticipation, and I think it's huge for these guys in their development."
Pool play starts Saturday with the double-elimination bracket portion beginning Sunday. Six full-sized football fields are being used, with the IMG Academy Stadium getting use Sunday.
"It's the culmination of a lot of good events that have been put on around the country," Weinke said. "And we developed that 7-on-7 platform with the ultimate goal of kids having the opportunity to earn their spot to come and play for a national championship here at a first-class facility. I think the unveiling of the championship round being played in the stadium gives the kids an opportunity to be in a great environment and a really a first-class event."