For the first time in the Wake Forest area, local high school football players had the privilege to learn lessons from former NFL players on how to be a better athlete and leader on and off the football field as a part of the High School Player Development football camp.
“We do this camp every year, but this is the first time we’ve been connected with the NFL,” Bob Winstead of Carolina Elite Football, who organized the event with Guy Trawick of the Northeastern Regional Business Alliance said. “The league actually called us, because we’re tied in with USA Football and they were looking for some incredible coaches to lead some player development. The main thing we want them to leave with is a good work ethic and we want them to be excellent on and off the football field.”
Players from various high schools attended the event Saturday at Wake Forest Middle School, but the five main high schools represented were Heritage, Millbrook, Wakefield, Wake Forest and North Raleigh Christian Academy.
“It’s a great camp,” Ivan Braszo, an assistant coach from Wake Forest High, said. “It lets the kids play football with some people who have been around it for a while. It’s a great chance to work with some great coaches and work on the players’ fundamental skills that they’re going to need for the next couple of years of their high school career.”
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Wake Forest sophomore cornerback Emarri Preddy said he wanted to improve his skills both on and off of the field.
“I’m looking to learn how to run my 40-time better and work on my agility,” Preddy said. “I want to become a better player and a better person in the classroom, as well as learning from other players and coaches.”
The camp started out in the main gym, where high school coaches and former NFL players shared their experience with the high school players. Marques Ogden, a former NFL player and younger brother of NFL Hall-of-Famer Jonathan Ogden, led a session on concussion safety awareness. He demonstrated new equipment that collegiate and professional athletes wear to keep themselves from getting concussed.
Emerson Martin, who played right guard for the Carolina Panthers in their inaugural year in 1995, was also on hand. Martin, who also played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers, has helped in the local community since his professional playing days, specifically with the organization Players 2 Pros.
“I started out with P2P for helping out young athletes,” Martin said. “We have an online website where athletes can put their player profile up for everyone to see. It’s like a Facebook for sports. Bob (Winstead) used that website to bring us all together and since then we’ve been doing a seven-on-seven spring league where we coach the kids and things have been turning around to where we’re now working with the High School Player Development Camp.”
Martin has been with the camp for several years and has worked with Winstead in helping bring the NFL and the National Guard to help partner with this football camp.
Athletes participated in various individual position drills throughout the day. There was also a combine to test their 40-yard dash, their Pro-Shuttle and Broad Jump.
Trawick, chairman of the Northeastern Regional Business Alliance, said the community was able to come together to create an opportunity for the high school athletes to develop into career professionals beyond athletics.
“We realize that 6.1 percent of students play college football and only 0.08 percent make it to the professional level,” Trawick said. “So that’s why we want these athletes to develop leadership skills so they can go to the college of their choice and step to the front of the line and compete with other students for leadership scholarships.”