Michigan Elite Football Club a result of prized partnership
The Michigan Elite Football Club is owned and ran by an elite partnership consisting of the club’s founder George Yarberry and former local prep stars and ex-NFL players Mill Coleman and Ron Rice.
Started by Yarberry, a one-time Hillsdale College basketball standout, in 2003, he teamed up with Coleman and Rice six years ago and expanded. When Yarberry began work on Michigan Elite football, it was just a single annual exposure camp and combine, which has grown to the biggest in the Midwest.
Once Coleman and Rice came on board as partners, they added an unsigned senior camp, a 7-on-7 travel team, individual position training and college-recruiting services.
“It’s all about helping kids on and off the field,” said Yarberry of his motivation. “We stress academics and staying on top of your books as much as football. We want to produce well-rounded players that want to do the right thing, play the right way. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Coleman (Farmington Hills Harrison) and Rice (Detroit U-D Jesuit), both local assistant high school coaches at their respective alma maters, met Yarberry over a decade ago while working his exposure camp as counselors.
“We work well together," Yarberry said. "We’re business partners, but we’re also good friends. I think we compliment each other nicely in what we do."
Their partnership certainly got off to a smashing start. The first 7-on-7 tournament Michigan Elite Football entered, Yarberry got Coleman and Rice to come out at the last minute and coach a bunch of kids they had never met. It didn’t matter, with Coleman running the offense and Rice looking after the defense, they won the whole thing.
“I couldn’t believe it, Mill and Ron had about 20 minutes with the team and they got everyone on the same page and they went out there and played like they had been coaching them forever,” Yarberry recalled.
The trio has been in business together ever since.
Coleman is one of the MHSAA’s all-time best prep quarterbacks, racking up robust numbers in leading Harrison to a pair of state titles in the 1980s, before going on to play in college at Michigan State and then in the NFL with the Chicago Bears.
Rice played his college ball at Eastern Michigan and then started in the secondary at free safety in the pros with his hometown Detroit Lions during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
When they retired, Coleman and Rice each went into coaching and position-skill training at the youth level. Joining forces with Yarberry, a former writer at Rivals.com, seemed like a natural fit.
“We had been doing camps together and we all got along so we took a concept that we all believed in, which was to be this additional resource for players and parents, and evolved it,” Coleman said.
Seeing the players he tutors and coaches mature is what it’s all about for the man they used to call “Mill the Thrill” for his dynamic style on the gridiron in his younger days.
“Watching the kids develop, being a part of the growth-process, is why you do this,” he said. “When you see that you know you’re making a difference.”
Alumni of the Michigan Elite Football Club include: Robert Bolden (Penn State/LSU/EMU), Aaron Burbridge (Michigan State), Mark Dell (Michigan State/NFL), Devin Funchess (Michigan), Lester Liston (Rutgers), Jamal Lyles (Michigan State), Kevonte Martin-Manley (Iowa), Matt Sokol (Michigan State) and Tyler Wiegers (Iowa), among others.
The annual Michigan Elite Football Unsigned Senior Camp will be held on December 6 at Total Sports in Wixom. For information on the camp and Michigan Elite Football in general go to www.michiganelitefootballclub.com.