Lessons on, off field


The campers, most of them clad in purple T-shirts and tired from a full day of practice, listened as Ravens tight end Darnell Dinkins wrapped up his one-day football clinic.

But instead of talking about X's and O's, Dinkins discussed his campers' futures away from football and the importance of taking on adversity throughout life.

"It's not a yellow brick road," Dinkins said yesterday in the air-conditioned cafeteria at Randallstown High School. "Stay positive, stay motivated, stay encouraged."

More than 100 students drilled and scrimmaged in the heat yesterday at the free one-day event hosted by Dinkins' Maleness to Manhood Foundation and The Athletic Group, a local company that helps parents and students with the college recruiting process.

Originally designed just for high school athletes, organizers said the camp was opened to middle school-age children in response to calls asking if the younger players could attend.

The clinic consisted of a morning session, with drills taught by local high school coaches, and an afternoon session, with seven-on-seven scrimmages and a seminar about the college recruiting process.

Throughout the day, Dinkins roamed the camp, offering pointers.

"You never want your feet to cross," Dinkins told a player who just completed a footwork drill. "Get low! Get low!" he encouraged the next athlete undertaking the drill.

"They're so excited and mesmerized. ... All you have to tell kids is which direction to go, and they go full speed," Dinkins said.

Greg Peel, president of The Athletic Group, said many who came to the camp could obtain college scholarships if they and their families become assertive.

"There's an innocent ignorance out there," Peel said. "People know [the universities of] Maryland and Virginia, but they don't know Slippery Rock," he said, referring to the university in Pennsylvania.

Shelton McCullough, a 16-year-old rising senior who plays defensive back at Randallstown, got some on-the-field tips from Ravens safety Ed Reed, his favorite player.

"I thought it was a good thing for [the Ravens] players to do, to take time out of their busy schedules for people who need help," McCullough said.

At the end of the day, the athletes heard Andre Baldwin, co-founder of The Athletic Group, discuss the company's method of helping students obtain scholarships, which includes an emphasis on academics, along with creating highlight packages to send to schools.

Nicholas Finney was given a miniature Ravens helmet autographed by several Ravens as the camp's top player.

A rising senior quarterback at Oakland Mills, Finney has a list of several universities where he hopes to play football, but he said that no matter where he goes, getting a college education is important to him.

"That's the right thing to do," he said.

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