Behind The ScenesNFL

ESPN producers work as scouts in preparing Gruden QB Camp episodes

While Monday Night Football analyst and Super Bowl-winning head coach Jon Gruden is the driving force behind the popular Gruden’s QB Camp series (premiering Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on ABC), there’s also an All-Pro team of ESPN producers behind the scenes who helps put the shows together.

I rewrote that first report a million times. It was a little nerve-wracking, but Jon loved it. He knows this is a team effort and understands how much work we put into it.
– Kala Bolton on the scouting reports she and her fellow Gruden QB Camp producers write about the prospects for Jon Gruden

The team includes Kala Bolton, Steven Kim, Greg Shapiro and Tory Zawacki. Under the direction of MNF producer Jay Rothman, college football producer Josh Hoffman and director Jeff Nelson, who also directs Sunday NFL Countdown and the NFL Draft, each member of this team is assigned one or two quarterbacks. They devote themselves to individual shows from start to finish.

Before each quarterback meets Gruden at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., the producer will have reviewed every available play involving that prospect. In some cases, that can be 20 hours of footage. The producer then compiles a packet of film clips, notes and a scouting report to send to Gruden for his review.

“I rewrote that first report a million times,” recalls Bolton, who is responsible for this season’s Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook shows. “It was a little nerve-wracking, but Jon loved it. He knows this is a team effort and understands how much work we put into it.”

You get so invested in these quarterbacks. I’ve seen every play they’ve ever made.
– Bolton

To paint a thorough picture of each participant, Bolton and her colleagues also send Gruden footage of past football camps (such as Elite 11), as well as details on the quarterbacks’ hobbies and activities outside of football.

“You get so invested in these quarterbacks,” Bolton, in her third year at ESPN, explains. “I’ve seen every play they’ve ever made. I’ve seen their childhood photos. I’ve talked with their high school coaches. It’s really cool to be part of this from the very beginning.”

Always voracious about his film study, Gruden – who typically invests a week to 10 days preparing for each quarterback – reviews every second of game tape and then creates a personalized lesson plan and an on-field workout unique to each quarterback.

“The drills are catered to each player and his specific needs,” explains Bolton, now in her second season of QB Camp. “Quarterbacks work on footwork, throw laceless balls and Jon chases them around. He calls himself Von Miller!”

For Bolton, Gruden’s QB Camp doesn’t end after the day-long visit or the editing process. In the fall, she produces Gruden’s weekly bus segments for Monday Night Football, so she and Gruden often reconnect with QB Camp alumni.

“Jon works to build and maintain relationships,” said Bolton, a devoted Auburn fan. “Nothing on this show is made for TV, it just happens to make great TV.”

See more photos, video behind the scenes of Gruden QB Camp.

2016 Gruden’s QB Camp premieres

Date Time (ET) Show Network
Saturday, April 9 4 p.m. SportsCenter Special: Gruden’s QB Camp – Jared Goff

(produced by Steven Kim)

ABC
4:30 p.m. SportsCenter Special: Gruden’s QB Camp –
Carson Wentz

(produced by Tory Zawacki)
ABC
Saturday, April 16 12 p.m. SportsCenter Special: Gruden’s QB Camp –
Paxton Lynch

(produced by Kala Bolton)
ESPN
12:30 p.m. SportsCenter Special: Gruden’s QB Camp –
Dak Prescott

(produced by Steven Kim)
ESPN
8:30 p.m. SportsCenter Special: Gruden’s QB Camp –
Christian Hackenberg

(produced by Tory Zawacki)
ESPN
9 p.m. SportsCenter Special: Gruden’s QB Camp –
Cardale Jones

(produced by Greg Shapiro)
ESPN
9 p.m. SportsCenter Special: Best of Gruden’s QB Camp ESPN
Saturday, April 23 3 p.m. SportsCenter Special: Gruden’s QB Camp –
Connor Cook

(produced by Kala Bolton)
ESPN

* All ESPN networks are available to stream live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Schedule subject to change.

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