One day, football fans might see these kids wearing a Seguin High School uniform, running up and down the field at Matador Stadium.
And if so, they might recall that they fell in love with the game at the Lawrence Sampleton Football Camp, held Saturday morning in Seguin.
More than 60 kids, ages 6-16, took part in drills, flag football and more at the camp, with interested parents on the sidelines to see their kids getting coaching from former NFL players, current college players and others in the five-hour long camp.
Besides Sampleton, who played at Seguin High School, the University of Texas and in the NFL, former professional players Flozell Adams, Raymond Claiborne, Trent Brown and Stephen Braggs were in attendance, running drills and talking with the kids about their lives as athletes.
For the coaches, players, parents and kids, it was a great day to get some coaching, meet some of the players and learn some new football skills.
Gilbert Cubit was standing on the sidelines, watching his son Matthew go through the drills on the field.
Cubit and Matthew drove over from Luling for the camp, because 7-year-old Matthew is going to be playing football for the first time this fall.
“He’s going to start playing football next month, we saw that the camp was going on and we wanted to get him ready,” Cubit said.
Matthew will be playing full contact peewee football, with Gilbert aware of the recent items in the news about head injuries in the sport.
“Of course I’m concerned about that,” Gilbert said. “But it seems like the pads and helmets they are wearing now are good.
“Some people might say he’s a little too young, but we’ll take that chance if he wants to play.”
It was Matthew’s second year in a row to attend the camp.
“He’s learning everything, how to pass, how to block, how to tackle properly, he’s learning a lot,” Gilbert said. “They are doing a real good job out there.”
Matthew comes by his love for the game honestly, as Gilbert played running back from the age of 11 on, and played in high school at Luling.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Matthew has already decided he wants to be a running back and cornerback when he begins play this fall.
Coaches and players
Kids at the camp attended free of charge, with proceeds from donations and sponsorships covering the cost of the camp, and the money going to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Texas.
“It’s one of our annual events here in Seguin,” Mark Terry, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Texas said. “We’re out here trying to give the kids an experience that some of them might not have had otherwise.”
The organization operates the clubs in four counties, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hayes, with facilities in Kyle, Seguin, San Marcos, New Braunfels and Luling.
Sampleton said that the camp emphasizes proper fundamentals for the kids, from throwing, catching and tucking the football, to proper stances and more.
“We teach the fundamentals, but even more so, we’re teaching them how not to take what they do lightly, to try to do the best they can every time,” he said.
Keeping the younger kids at the camp focused on the drills and reps can be an issue at times, Sampleton said.
“Sometimes they don’t have an attention span,” Sampleton laughed. “They’re great, and at that age, they’re the funniest.
“Some of them do stand out, because at that age, 6 or 7 years old, you notice the ones that are focused and taking it seriously — and then some of them are out there chasing butterflies.
“We have 30 or so of the upper level kids that are a little bit more into trying to get better right now, but we welcome all of them.”
Sampleton addressed the concerns about head injuries for the younger players going into full contact football.
“As an alumni of the NFL, definitely there are concerns about that,” he said. “I think the parents should put their kids into environments they think are safe, with coaches that are teaching good technique.
“If you look at any football film from today and compare it to film from 20 years ago, the game looks different, because coaches are teaching proper technique.
“The game has changed a lot, in terms of basic technique and how you play.”
Adams, who played on the offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys from 1998 to 2010, and was selected to the Pro Bowl five times, drove down from Dallas to help out with the camp.
“Anything that can help the kids, I’m all for it,” Adams said. “These type of things are always needed for kids in the community, to teach them football, but also to teach them life skills too.
“It gets them out of the house and more active, because kids today aren’t always as active as they should be.”
Adams took time out from his home building business and work for his foundation to help out with the camp.
His projection for the Cowboys in the fall?
“I don’t ever predict Super Bowls, but I think they’re going to have a productive year and are definitely a playoff contender,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they do this year.”
Christian Eury, Manuel Morales, and Tyler Neira were proudly showing off the footballs they earned as standouts at the camp. They were awarded the new footballs at the end of the day by the coaches for their efforts in the drills and workouts during the day.
“I wanted to train because I’m going to play football this season,” Eury, age 9, said. “My mom brought me so I could learn about the stance and how to move better.”
Morales learned some new skills at the camp and enjoyed getting to run, catch and throw the football, something he doesn’t get to do too much as a lineman.
“I was having a great time,” Morales said. “I got to catch balls, throw them, work on getting better footwork and use my hands better.”
He and Neira will be entering Seguin High School this fall as freshmen. Both will likely play on the offensive or defensive line when they play this coming season — when they will be trying out for the freshman team at Seguin High School.
“I’ll probably be playing center and hopefully defensive end this fall,” Neira said.
He was appreciative of the brand new Nike football he got from the coaching staff at the end of the camp.
“I guess they thought that I had stood out, because I was working hard out there,” he said.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor for the Seguin Gazette. He can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com