On Saturday, former Clemson football stars Jarvis Jenkins, DeShawn Williams and Shaq Lawson all returned home to host the 4th Annual Daniel High School Alumni Football Camp in nearby Central, S.C.
As they sat around and talked, they wondered how a youth football camp, like the one they host, would have benefited their football careers. Would they be even better players than they are right now?
“That was the reason why we did it,” said Jenkins, who along with former Clemson receiver Deandre Hopkins came up with the idea four years ago to host a football camp at Daniel High School. “We did not have anything like this when we were younger. We were just talking about it. We were thinking how much more advanced we would have been had we had this.”
Jenkins, Williams, Lawson and Hopkins, are all in the NFL, quite an accomplishment for any college to have four NFL alumni, much less a high school to produce that much NFL talent. Jenkins, the elder statesman of the group, is entering his eighth season in the league with the Kansas City Chiefs, while Hopkins is about to start his sixth season with the Houston Texans. Williams will start his fourth year in the NFL after signing with Denver in the off-season and Lawson will start his third in Buffalo.
“Jarvis did something that was needed,” Williams said. “He started this camp and we just helped in our own way and it has grown. When were young we did not have all of this. There was a big bridge in the (age) gap between us and the guys we looked up to.”
There were a couple hundred kids at Daniel High School on Saturday getting football instruction and advice on what they need to do both on and off the field to succeed.
“We do it here so kids don’t have to go to Columbia or North Carolina to see pro guys,” Jenkins said. “We are right here so why not give back. We are in our own backyard so why not help a little and see if we can help one young man maybe live his dream.”
Though Williams and Lawson want to give Jenkins and Hopkins all the credit, Jenkins says that isn’t true. It’s a group effort from a group of young men who grew up playing football and dreamed of hopefully one day playing at Clemson and then in the NFL.
Now they just want to give back to show others from their community that if they believe in themselves, work hard and strive to be the best they can be in everything they do, then one day they can play in the league, and come back and help host the Daniel Alumni Football Camp, too.
“No name is bigger than any other,” Jenkins said. “It is four guys that are giving back that grew up in Central, South Carolina. We want to see kids succeed. It is going pretty good now. I’m excited to see what it looks like twenty years from now when it is in its 24th Anniversary.
“This is an every year thing. It is not just because we are in the NFL. We want to keep doing it. You never know what kids you can impact.”
Jenkins remembers the impact one of his high school position coaches, Randy Cheek, made on him. When Jenkins was in his sophomore year at Daniel, Cheek told Jenkins he thought he could play at least 10 years in the NFL.
“He told me before I got my first college offer that I had the potential to play in the NFL,” Jenkins said. “At the time, I thought he was crazy. But when I look back, that is the one name I keep remembering. He told me that. I am now almost at ten years and he was the one guy who told me that. He did not even know if I would go to college.
“The fact that he saw something in me when I was a little kid, that gives me motivation when I am out here that I can look and say, ‘You are going to be that guy in a couple of years.’ I did not believe him, so I have to get these kids to believe me. Get them to believe what I can do, they can do.”
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