Spring spawned a beautiful warm, sunny day for the Legends of Tennessee youth football camp Sunday at Patriot Stadium.
Sponsored by Peppers Toyota, the event was put on by former University of Tennessee Vols players Jabari Davis, Tony Robinson, Eric Westmoreland, Cedric Houston and Chris Treece. Former Henry County High School star Marsalis Teague, who later played cornerback at Tennessee, also joined the former Vols for the camp.
Peppers salesman and noted Volunteers’ fan Jeff Taylor said it was a great day all around. The camp was followed up by a meet and greet session where fans rolled in at Peppers Toyota for nearly two hours to see the former Vols players.
“It could not have been a more perfect day,” Taylor said. “We had about fifty-five kids take part in the camp. There were five or six former Vols stars here and a couple of personal trainers that came along to help out, too. A big crowd turned out for autographs where we had food available for the players, the coaches and the fans. The food was provided by Lakeway IGA. It was just a great day in Big Orange Country.”
CAMP ABOUT MORE THAN FOOTBALL
Former Vols’ running back Davis took the reigns of the youth camp program when former coach Phillip Fulmer became the university’s athletics director. He agreed with Taylor’s assessment of the kind of day the group had in Paris.
“This camp was kind of an add-on for us and wouldn’t have been as successful without the great work of Coach (James) Counce and all the people here to get the word out on social media and by talking to everyone they could. We have really enjoyed our trip to West Tennessee because we know great football is played here,” Davis said.
He said the group held a camp in Jackson on Saturday that drew more than 100 youngsters.
“While most of our coaches live in East Tennessee, we want to take our camps all across the state because we know that the Vols’ Nation are the greatest fans in the nation. We see it everywhere we go. We can’t say enough about the way the people here in Paris, the way this dealership opened its doors on a day they are not open for business and the way they provided food for our coaches and the players. It is just amazing the support for Tennessee football,” said Davis.
He said the campers received some advanced training exercises but the coaches also did a lot of talking about what it takes to be well-rounded student athletes.
“I think we were able to coach them up a little which will help them to better develop their football skills,” Davis said. “We also spent time talking to them about the importance of being a star in the classroom, too. It isn’t enough to star just on the playing field. We want them to be stars in the classroom and in the community. Hopefully, we were able to give them some inspiration to become all of that.”
He said it was really a boost to the camp to have Teague come home to Paris and take part in the event.
“We really love having Marsalis with us. He draws a great deal of respect here after having a great high school career. He is a positive role model for the young people of this area and someone they can look up to,” said Davis.
Davis keeps a close eye on the Vols when they are on the field in Knoxville. He likes what he began seeing last year from head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s squad.
“They got off to a slow start but fought their way back to have some really good wins at the end of the season. That is kind of how life goes. Sometimes you can stumble at the start but you just keep working and building and everything will work out. I like the momentum that the football team had at the end of the season. I think they’ll carry that momentum into the upcoming season. I’m looking forward to that game with Oklahoma and believe they’ll knock off those big-time Sooners and then, we can smack Florida in the mouth. That will set the stage for a real good season,” Davis said.
TEAGUE HAS FUN IN HOMETOWN
Teague said it was great to be able to be part of the Vols’ Legends camp and to be back at Patriot Stadium on Sunday.
He works as a real estate agent at Empire Realty & Construction in Nashville. He said they handle brokerage and do quite a bit of construction as things boom in Nashville.
“We stay pretty busy and are involved in several ongoing projects,” Teague said.
He said he came out lucky in the March 3 storm that produced a tornado that did severe damage from Nashville to Cookeville.
“That tornado went right behind the apartment building I live in. We didn’t have any damage and everyone was alright but a block away there was a lot of damage. I mean buildings just destroyed. We were very lucky where I live. It was really a scary night,” said Teague.