Jaguars' Jones gives back to Beaufort with inaugural youth football clinic

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comMay 20, 2012 

Greg Jones backtracked and started from the beginning.

"Everybody knows how to hold a football, right?" he asked. "I want the ball high and tight, OK? Run through the line. Don't jog."

Some forming the line of campers in white T-shirts nodded their understanding. Some didn't listen, reaching the front of the line without knowing how to execute the drill. Jones stepped closer, explained the drill again in an even tone and watched from a couple feet away.

"Uh-uh, uh-uh, uh-uh -- Come on back," Jones told a boy who failed to use the proper footwork. "I want you to slide through the whole thing."

Jones, the former Battery Creek High School standout and current Jacksonville Jaguars fullback, returned to Dolphin Stadium on Saturday for his inagural Lead Block Foundation football camp. Jones' year-old nonprofit seeks to help children and families in need and, after food and toy drives, the Beaufort event was formed with the help of Jones and some of his teammates and colleagues.

The 150 free entries were full within about 10 days, Battery Creek athletics director John Drafts said. Registration was open first to Robert Smalls Middle School and Battery Creek before the remaining Beaufort County schools were invited to register.

Participants included current high school players and children as young as 10.

Among those manning drill stations Saturday was former Beaufort High School standout and Seattle Seahawks defensive back Ron Parker.

"I enjoyed myself," Parker said. "I know they enjoyed themselves, too. It's always good to do something like this."

Current and former NFL players helping out also included Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith, Tennessee Titans defensive back Anthony Smith, former Houston Texans and San Diego Chargers defensive end Travis Johnson, free agent offensive tackle Ray Willis, formerly of the New Orleans Saints, and free agent defensive back Bryant McFadden.

"They just look big," 12-year-old Dwayne Allen said, laughing.

Allen, a student at Whale Branch Middle School, said Jones was the only familiar name to him Saturday and that he had visited Jacksonville for NFL games on multiple occassions.

Allen, who played football at Robert Smalls Middle School this past season, said Saturday's camp introduced him to "up-downs," a drill requiring a player to drop flat on the ground before springing back up with feet pumping.

"I didn't know what those were," he said. "I got a good workout."

After more than two hours, Jones closed the camp by telling participants to work hard and maintain their grades. He released them all to a Chic-Fil-A lunch and sat at the table with his NFL colleagues to sign autographs.

After the last of the autograph-seekers passed through the line, Jones sought out Whale Branch Early College High School senior Josh Fields, a former Warriors running back Jones heard about through family. Jones talked to Fields about his future plans and quizzed him on his two-year-old school and its mascot.

Jones entered the Battery Creek school building for the first time in a long time. The colors had changed, he said. He thought he recognized a new entryway.

Jones is preparing for his ninth season with the Jaguars with no immediate plans to retire, though he said he's working toward coaching as a post-playing days career.

He said the key to continuing was by remaining active during the offseason. He bikes regularly and visits the gym with his wife, Dana.

He hopes to make his camp an annual event and was pleased with Saturday's turnout.

"The weather really held up," he said. "I know it was raining a lot this past week. A lot of people in the community came out. I'm glad the kids had a good time and learned."

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