Photo gallery (photos by Kyle Heck)
Temperatures nearing triple-digits didn’t stop around one thousand kids from coming out to the second annual Ellington Elite Youth Football Camp at Berkeley High School in Moncks Corner on Friday, July 10.
Headlining the camp was Bruce Ellington, a former two-sport star at South Carolina, and Andre Ellington, a former star tailback at Clemson.
Despite the athletes from two schools that rival each other, Gamecock and Tiger fans alike came out to work out together and get autographs from some of their favorite players.
Bruce, who now plays for the San Francisco 49ers, and Andre, who plays for the Arizona Cardinals, are cousins and both starred at Berkeley before moving on to college careers at the two big in-state schools.
“This is a great cause for me and my cousin Andre to just have a free camp to give back to the community,” Bruce said.
The large crowd showed just how much of an impact the Ellington brothers have on the Moncks Corner area. In addition, the duo brought along some of their college teammates to help coach and give some advice to the youngsters.
Andre brought several former Clemson stars with him, including Robert Smith, C.J. Jones, Jaron Brown, Jarvis Jenkins, Brandon Ford and Tajh Boyd.
“Focus on school first, then you can be an athlete,” Jones told the kids.
Despite the big Clemson presence, Ellington made sure to bring along some of his Gamecock friends, including former stars Langston Moore and Preston Thorne, both of whom have supported fellow Gamecocks and their camps all summer long.
The coaches first spread the kids all across the football field for some stretches before they broke away into position groups. The kids then rotated between quarterback, offensive and defensive line, wide receiver, defensive back, linebacker and runningback drills.
After a couple more motivational speeches and lunch, the kids hit the field again for combine drills. The coaches saw who could do the most pushups, who could run the fastest and who could throw the farthest, among other things.
“I’m excited,” Andre said of the large crowd. “Just growing up in a small town like this, outdoor activities was everything to us. We just wanted to have some way of keeping these kids involved. Getting them off the couches and stop them from playing video games all day and just giving them something to dream for. Hopefully it comes true.”
Along with the drills, the kids and their parents had chances to win prizes from several sponsors who set up tents on the concourse. They could also get tested for diabetes, get a blood pressure and vision check and could even see what their Body Mass Index (BMI) was.
“This is a great thing we have going on down here,” Bruce said. “Coming home and giving back to our small town of Moncks Corner.”
With both Ellingtons playing football on the west coast, they don’t get a lot of opportunities to come back home. That meant that while the main focus was the camp and providing the kids with some important knowledge, Bruce and Andre are both happy that they’re able to spend some time with family and friends before yet another football season starts up.
“This is where it all started,” Bruce said of Berkeley. “This is where me and Andre got noticed at so it’s nice coming back here and seeing some other NFL guys come help out. It’s great.”
“This is home,” Andre said. “You can’t forget where you came from. We just wanted to come back and have fun with the kids. We really want to thank the families for bringing their kids out here.”
**Story and photo by Kyle Heck**