LT comes to town to run LaDainian Tomlinson Preparatory Academy
SAYRE - For area football players this weekend will be a dream come true.
A chance to learn from a former NFL MVP as LaDainian Tomlinson is in town to host his LT Preparatory Academy at Athens High School.
During a press conference at the Brie Marie Inn in Sayre the former standout running back talked about what the academy can do for athletes.
"If they want an opportunity to play at the next level, we help them through that process," Tomlinson said. "We complement what the coaches are already teaching these kids."
Athens coach Jack Young knows how special it is to have the camp in town.
"You almost can't put into words what a unique opportunity it is," Young said. "We have kids from as far as Rhode Island, New Hampshire coming," Young said. "I have a friend of mine's son coming from North Carolina."
What makes this academy different than other football camps is that they focus on more than just the football skills, they also focus on what goes into the recruiting process. "It's more than just drills," Young said. "There are things like athletic testing, which is really big right now. There is stuff about academics and about preparing for the SATs. Later on Saturday there is an opportunity for parents to get involved and learn about the recruiting process."
For Tomlinson one of the big goals is giving kids an opportunity to be recruited.
Growing up Tomlinson wasn't recruited until late in high school and he knows there are a lot of athletes with talent who never get the chance.
"I realized when I was in high school a lot of student athletes had the talent, but didn't have the resources," Tomlinson said. "We really try and teach and educate them."
One of the proudest things for Tomlinson, and the other camp coaches, is when an athlete from one of the camps is able to go on to the next level.
"I remember the first time a kid stood up to say he got a scholarship to Baylor University," Tomlinson said. "It's the best feeling when someone from the camp gets a scholarship."
While Tomlinson's camps have primarily been held in Texas he has started to branch out to a few other areas.
The Former TCU and San Diego Chargers star is in Athens in large part because his former college, and pro, teammate Mike Keathley lives in the area now.
"Mike and I have been friends for a long time," Tomlinson said. "I'm excited to be here. We talked about this for a couple of years now. I don't plan this to be only this year, I want to come back every single year."
Keathley's son Kalen was a freshman football player at Athens last year, and Mike is excited to have Tomlinson working with his son, and the other kids from the region.
Keathley, who played with Tomlinson at TCU and with the Chargers, knows how much a camp like this can help the area.
"I am enjoying it," Keathley said. "I put this together for them to come up here. I am excited for them to work with my kids and the other kids around here. I moved here about five years ago and I just want to try and help the community."
For Keathley it is also nice to see some of his former teammates.
"It is nice," he said. "Not only him, but the other guys, I played with quite a few of them."
For Tomlinson it will be nice to be able to work with Kalen and the other kids this weekend.
"Kalen, I watched grow up," Tomlinson said. "I have known him since he was a baby. It's nice to see where he is athletically. I feel like a father."
This weekend there will be athletes from around the NTL, as well as the region and Young likes seeing everyone come together for the camp.
"When this came about one of the first people I called was coach (Jason) Miller at Waverly," Young said. "Coach Miller will work with our quarterbacks. People know how good of a coach he is, but some might not realize how great of a player he was. He played professionally overseas. He was a tremendous player. It's great that area coaches can come in and help and work with their coaches and the kids."
Young agreed with Tomlinson that this is something he wants to see continued for years to come.
"Like LT said in his press conference, he's not coming here just for this year, he wants to continue this and build relationships with the kids and return and see them grow."
As a kid Tomlinson watched Walter Payton and studied the way he played and that's something Tomlinson believes you need to do, study successful people to be successful.
"When I was six-years-old I remember seeing Walter Payton play," he said. "I studied Walter Payton. I wanted to be him. I believe you can not be great, if you do not study somebody great."
Over the next two days that's what Tomlinson hopes the athletes can do - study what former collegiate and professional stars do, learn from them and help give them the tools to be successful.
"You have to educate yourself on what it takes to get there," Tomlinson said of athletes hoping to play in college.
The camp runs today and tomorrow at Athens High School from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day. The camp is open for any student athletes, from any school, grades 6-11 and there is still an opportunity to register at the camp today from 8-9:30 a.m.