The eighth-year had its challenges. Twenty day ago – Saturday, July 7th – the 8th Annual Jason Campbell FCA Football Camp was put on hold due to rainy conditions. Thursday morning, under sunny skies and the late June heat, the football camp, featuring former Taylorsville, Auburn, and NFL quarterback Jason Campbell ran like clockwork.
“It hard to believe we’re in our eighth year,” said Campbell. “Mitch Williams has done a great job organizing this camp. We teamed up [with Mitch] eight years ago, and we’re still going strong.”
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Despite the less than ideal day of the week for the camp, more than 125 kids showed up for registration between 8 and 9 a.m. on Thursday.
“We tried to have it on Friday, June 7th, but the weather didn’t permit,” said Campbell. “But we moved it to today, and we’re blessed with great weather.
“There’s a lot of 7-on-7 camps going on today, but we still had a ton of kids to show up. That goes to show that what we’re doing means something [to the community].”
Campbell’s camp has always been a two-fold instrument, teaching the importance of genuine faith and football techniques.
“The goal of the camp is first and foremost about having a relationship with Christ,” said Campbell. “The second part involves learning techniques and drills on the field from people who were once in their shoes trying to go where they’re trying to go. If it’s one kid or 10 kids that take something with them, understanding that football and life go hand in hand, [then it’s worth it]. It can teach you a lot about life’s lessons. In football, there’s a lot of ups and downs, but how you deal with them and respond to issues is the key to success.
Campbell played high school football at Taylorsville, leading the 2A Tartars to the semi-finals his senior year. He committed to Auburn, where we played for the next four years (2001-2004). During his senior season this go-around, Campell led the Auburn Tigers to a perfect 13-0 record, including a 16-13 win over Virginia Tech in the 2005 Sugar Bowl. In addition to being awarded the Sugar Bowl’s MVP, Campbell was also the SEC’s Player of the Year and SEC Championship MVP. He was drafted as the 25th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft to the Washington Redskins. He retired after seven years in the NFL with stops also in Oakland (Raiders), Chicago (Bears), Cleveland (Browns) and Cincinnati (Bengal).
Being able to relate to kids in the Pinebelt is one of the reasons why the camp has been and continues to be a success.
“And that’s the thing,” Campbell said. “If I was a guy that did a camp here and didn’t come from this area, then the kids [wouldn’t be able to relate]. But when you grow up here, and I went to a small 2A school, and we had opportunities to win and go play at a big university, and later to the pro’s, it gives them hope that they can see that it can happen to them.”
Campbell lives in Georgia but says he always points school’s to South Mississippi when they’re looking for the next big star.
“There’s a lot of talent out here,” said Campbell. “I live in the Georgia area, but I tell everybody if you want to find kids that work hard and love the game and are solid human beings then you should check out South Mississippi. It’s something about this area. We put out a lot of good athletes and not just good athletes but good people. I tell them this is definitely an area to look at.”