Working summer camp allows FSU football players to give back, reflect

Ryan S. Clark, Lead Beat Writer

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More than one million children from the ages of six to 12 play tackle football in the United States, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Just over one million play high school football, per the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The vast majority of those youths dream of playing big-time college football and one day making it to the NFL.

It was not so long ago that Florida State players like Fred Jones, Ro'Derrick Hoskins, Derrick Nnadi and Matthew Thomas were in those shoes, trying to learn tips from the players they looked up to.

These days, they're the ones in the spotlight. And it's a role they take seriously.

"I've never had a hesitation to give back to the community. You've gotta help our youth understand about societal norms," said Jones, whose father and uncle also played at FSU. "It's OK to be called, 'Different,' because if you're different, it means you're a leader and not a follower."

Jones was one of about 10 current Seminoles who worked the Elite Championship Camp held last Saturday on the FSU campus.

The six-hour camp, which was free and open to about 200 campers, also featured several stars from Florida State's 2013 and 2014 teams, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Rashad Greene, Buffalo Bills tight end Nick O'Leary and others. The camp was the brainchild of Winston and his childhood friend, Richard Rabb.

Of course, not all youth football camps are created equal. Some are designed to be a showcase that can either lead to scholarship offers or raise players' profiles among college coaches. There are specialty camps focused on kicking and punting. There are even 7-on-7 camps, which high school teams use to create cohesion among their skill players leading into the following season.

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