Despite all of the uncertainty within the NFL right now, players are still doing what they can and giving back to their communities with youth football camps.
John Beck, former BYU quarterback and currently with the Washington Redskins, held his annual NXT Level Football Camp at the Provo High School practice field on Monday and Tuesday. This was the fourth consecutive year this camp was held.
Beck said he thought this year’s camp was great.
“Each year we’ve done it, we’ve been able to walk away feeling really good about it,” he said. “We get a great response from the kids. The cool thing is we’ve had kids every year that we’ve done it. It’s neat to see them, and then a year later see them progress.”
The camp was divided up by age groups (4th-6th graders on Monday and 7th-12th graders on Tuesday). Each year the camp focuses on position drills, skills competitions, agility exercises and seven-on-seven games. Both boys and girls are invited to attend the camp, where helmets and pads aren’t necessary because it’s not full contact.
Along with Beck this year were former BYU players and some current NFL players. Beck said bringing in former BYU players helps the participants focus and get all they can out of camp.
“We felt the way to do that was to bring in ex-BYU guys that they’ve seen on Saturdays play,” he said. “They’ve watched them go to the pros, and if you’ve got that guy teaching you, you’re more apt to pay attention.”
One first-timer helping the campers focus was former BYU defensive back Andrew Rich. Rich said he’s done camps before, but he’s really enjoyed this one in particular.
“It’s been good to be here and be in Utah County doing a camp, usually it’s up north where I’m from,” Rich said.
But being in Utah County isn’t the only thing Rich said he liked about this camp.
“[My favorite thing was] being around the children [and] seeing how much they look up to the guys who’ve played at BYU and that are in the NFL,” Rich said. “And being around some of the teammates that I’ve had. I haven’t seen them in awhile, so this has been good to be around them and catch up.”
Helping out for his third year is former Cougar and current Chicago Bear Harvey Unga. Like Rich, Unga enjoys being around former teammates and seeing them give back to the community. However, he said this camp is all about the participants.
“Growing up I never had these kinds of opportunities to come to camps like these,” Unga said. “Hopefully they look up to us and admire us and enjoy hanging out with us. I never had this kind of help from NFL players and college players, and a lot of that is inspiration for us [to come do these kinds of camps].”
Another veteran to this camp is Bryan Kehl. Kehl played for the Cougars during the 2002, 2005-07 seasons, and now currently plays for the St. Louis Rams.
Kehl said attendance was a little lower than last year, but it has been pretty consistent over the past four years that he’s been involved. He attributes this to the people involved and how organized the camp is every year, as well as having great weather conditions.
Kehl also said if you want to get better as a player but also have fun, then this is the camp for you.
“I think the most important thing was what I said to my guys and that’s just to have fun above all,” he said. “If it’s not fun, then you should probably go do something else. But if you come out here and want to have fun and work hard to get better, then this is the perfect opportunity.”