Meridian Star

Sports

July 13, 2014

Russell, other former college players put on youth camp

PHILADELPHIA — Young football players might look up to guys like Tyler Russell in terms of athletic ability.

But football how-tos weren’t the only things 10-year-old Dexter Spencer took away from Russell’s football skills camp Saturday in Philadelphia.

“We learned about how we’re supposed to take care of our education, be good and don’t get in trouble,” Spencer said.

Approximately 40 youth made their way to the Neshoba County Youth Football Tyler Russell Skills and Drills camp Saturday morning at Northside Park in Philadelphia. The camp featured Russell, former Meridian High School and Mississippi State quarterback, as well as former college players like Mississippi State quarterback Tyson Lee and former Ole Miss quarterback Michael Spurlock. Spurlock, who plays wide receiver in the NFL, recently signed with the Chicago Bears. In addition, several area youth football coaches were also on hand to teach the key fundamentals of football.

“We didn’t know how many kids would show up and didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out to be a really good day,” Russell said. “All the kids had fun, and this is about just letting them get around guys who have played high school, college and even pro ball and let them see we’re just normal guys. If they learn at a young age to listen to your teachers, do your schoolwork and stuff like that, you can be like us.

“We’re nobody special or anything like that, that’s why were trying to get them to see and learn today”

Lee said speed, agility and work ethic were the main focal points of Saturday’s four-hour camp.

“Really what Tyler and Neshoba wanted to do was bring a skills and drills camp here where the kids could learn the specifics, the small details and things they can practice for their season, throughout the year so they can get better for their team and themselves,” Lee said.

“We want the kids to realize what it means to work hard, not only on the field, but in the classroom and in life, so they can bring it all together.”

Spencer said it was “amazing” having guys like Russell, Lee and Spurlock on hand to help guide them.

“They’re cool people,” Spencer said. “I’ve never seen then in real life, but I see them on TV every day.”

Said 8-year-old Braxton Richard, “It’s pretty cool. They’re good people.”

Richard’s friend, eight-year-old C.J. Hagan said he was taught the swim exercise, which is performed with a partner.

“It’s where you bend down, then you come up and you grab them on the shoulder and swim over them,” Hagan said.

Giving back to youth is a big deal to Lee, who said he does everything he can to make a positive impact on the next generation.

“It’s huge,” Lee said. “I don’t live here, but the thing about it is, the youth, the city and the school, they’re the future. If you can affect them and impact them, they’re going to make a difference in the community, and if all the communities did that, as a whole, you’ll make a difference in the state.”

Russell said attending similar camps when he was growing up put on by former college athletes went a long way to developing him as a player, and he was happy to be able to do the same thing for other children interested in football.

“I remember how I felt,” Russell recalled. “I wished how I could get in (the older athletes’) shoes, and what they helped me with helped me get to where I wanted to be, to play in the SEC. I’m just trying to give back and do the same thing.”

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