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Small college program has instituted "Challenge Day" to compete for starting spots

Upon its release in 2018, Marvel's Black Panther smashed a number of box office records, including the highest grossing superhero film of all time and bringing in well over $1 billion worldwide.

One of the signature scenes of the movie comes on Challenge Day, when tribes are able to challenge to become king by defeating the current heir to the throne. Below is a quick look at that moment in the movie (no spoilers).

https://youtu.be/V0OGG-FLPU0

One small college program has decided to adopt a similar philosophy when it comes to their depth chart, and they're actually in year two of the plan.

The Apprentice School (D-III - VA) offensive coordinator Charlie Skalaski IV shared earlier this week that they're going on their second annual Challenge Day.

It's a really intriguing idea, but one that likely also comes with its fair share of challenges, and I'm sure many reading this had the same concerns I did right off the bat. For example, the guy at the top of the depth chart earned his way there through a number of reps over days and weeks, so does the challenger just have to beat him on one rep to overtake that spot? That could be an issue.

But the Apprentice School staff put together a detailed plan for how to approach Challenge Day, and Skalaski shared much of that with FootballScoop.

"After we put out our initial depth chart, guys had 24 hours to communicate to me if they wanted to challenge the guy ahead of them," Skalaski shared, noting that just one guys challenged last year, while four decided to this time around.

"At the end of practice, the guys competed in one-on-one position specific drills, that tested physical ability/conditioning, as well as position related skill. We also created a position specific test that both the challenger and the guy being challenged had to take immediately after practice. We kept the whole offensive unit out to watch and told them they would help the coaches declare who won each challenge - takes out any doubt of coach bias or anything like that. As coaches, we paid very close attention to who the team was cheering on. It didn't necessarily affect final decisions, but did give us some insights into how the guys feel about certain teammates. All the physical challenges were 3 reps, so for example, two offensive lineman competed in a 5-10-15 shuttle race, and then went over for 3 reps on the boards. Two receivers also raced in the 5-10-15 and then did a "star drill" we do which is just a route tree rotation with 5 total balls."

"3 out of 4 incumbents ending up keeping their jobs, but what we saw is those guys got better throughout camp rather than feeling comfortable that their starting spot was safe."

This is a really interesting way to create ownership and camaraderie among the team, and to make sure everyone feels like they got a legit spot at the depth chart's top spots. Credit The Apprentice School staff for thinking outside the box and creating such a detailed plan to institute Challenge Day.