Josh Freeman's football camp ran into a snag early when the QB had some issues that delayed his arrival, but teammate Vincent Jackson and former Bucs great Derrick Brooks made up for any disappointment that the approximately 200 kids may have had by not seeing No. 5 early in the day.
There were times last season when Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman was under pressure from opposing defenses and had to just throw the ball up, hoping receiver Vincent Jackson would bail him out. More times than not, Jackson made the catch. On Wednesday at Wesley Chapel High School, Freeman once again called upon No. 83, and just like so many times on the football field last year, Jackson came up with a clutch reception at the Josh Freeman ProCamps Football Camp.
Freeman’s arrival at the camp that bears his name was delayed for the better part of the morning session due to vehicle issues, according to the quarterback, but Jackson was more than happy to lend his services to the approximately 200 kids ranging in age from seven to 18.
“To support these kids, it is about the kids,” Jackson said. "That is why guys like Josh put these camps on. Because we have a passion for our community. We know it means to give back and we know we were once in these kid’s shoes. So for him to come out here, and put this camp together with 200-250 kids today, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Guys in the community and guys on the team, we support each others' events and causes."
Freeman tweeted his appreciation on his own Twitter website, @JF5x.
“Big thanks to @VincentTJackson for filling in at the 3rd annual Josh Freeman Football Camp put on by @ProCamps. #wesleychapelHS"
Freeman was upset with the circumstances that delayed his arrival until just moments before the Wednesday session ended, but was thankful to have Jackson help him out. Freeman plans to be at the camp all day on Thursday.
“It was definitely a long morning, not exactly how you expect it to go but I got here,” Freeman said. “I feel so bad because I have so much fun hanging out with the kids and I know they enjoy whatever little coaching bits they can get from me. I was really happy that Vince could come and fill in and get some work in so that was good.”
The kids were divided into groups based on their age under very hot conditions on the football field at Wesley Chapel High School on Wednesday morning. The coaches for each age group were a mix of local high school and college coaches and the practice was up-tempo from the start. The coaches rotated their kids to stations where they worked on basic fundamentals such as three-point stance, quarterback and running back mesh points and learning to get off the line of scrimmage as a receiver.
Jackson says the basic fundamental can’t be taught enough.
"The fact that these kids can come out here and get some true fundamental skills,” Jackson said. “These coaches are doing a great job of teaching them the fundamentals of offense and defense – making them well-rounded. So whenever they do get to that level of participating in football, they have some foundation there. They will have a base to work with.
Later in the morning practice session, Jackson gave the campers some motivational pointers, and probably none made the parents in attendance happier than when he talked about the importance of achieving good grades in school. Jackson relayed to the kids how he was able to be an honor student all through out school, which allowed him to go to college and pursue his education.
Just as the final round of skills competition was getting under way, lightning in the area forced the camp indoors to the gym where the coaching staff talked to the campers and then introduced former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, who addressed the kids, then held a question-and-answer session. While Brooks was talking to the kids Freeman arrived and followed up Brooks with an introductory speech before taking photos with all of the camp participants.
After the camp broke for the day, Freeman met with the handful of media in attendance and told PewterReport.com that the camp is a nice break from his day job.
“No question because we take it so seriously for good reason,” Freeman said. “It’s getting back to [the question of] why did you start playing football to begin with? It is for the love of the game. It’s the camaraderie. It is all the great things about the sport that make it what it is. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to share some of my knowledge with these kids and also to do what I do for a living.
“It is the time of year I look forward to every year. I started this camp up a couple years ago and it has grown into something that has been good for a lot of people. At the end of the day it is about kids coming out and having some fun, being around pro athletes and getting some quality coaching. I enjoyed talking to the kids today and really look forward to getting out here tomorrow.”
The Josh Freeman ProCamps football camp will wrap up on Thursday at Wesley Chapel High School beginning at 9 a.m.
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