SHREVEPORT -- Fifth-year Dallas cornerback Morris Claiborne hosted his fifth-annual free football camp and was aided by former LSU teammate receiver Rueben Randle and new Cowboys teammate quarterback Dak Prescott.
""It was great having both of those guys," Claiborne said. "For Dak, personally, he's a guy that's from this area. So is Rueben, but Dak is more this way."
Claiborne had two sessions of the camp: one before noon for kids ages six to 12, and then a second session in the afternoon for kids ages 13 to 18. According to Claiborne, the older kids were really attuned to Prescott's instruction.
Said Claiborne: "It was just like I said: the way the kids responded to him was great. I really wasn't expecting them to respond to him the way they responded to him. But they took him in. He took them in. He spoke to them at the end of the camp and gave them some great wisdom and some great knowledge. I felt like the speech he said afterwards was unbelievable."
At the end of the second session, Prescott with the campers gathered around elucidated how every one of them controlled their own choices, even though they still may be wards of their parents and teachers.
"You control what you do," Prescott explained to the kids. "You control your outcome. As Morris said: in the morning, you control your alarm clock going off or just hitting snooze and sleep in and not run that mile or two miles. You control that. Your momma might help you, might tell you what to do, but you control what you do at the end of the day. You all know what age group this is: 15, 16, 17. Y'all got to start making decisions. You're in the prime of making decisions that are really going to dictate where your life goes."
"I just hope the kids took it in and hopefully can learn something from it," Claiborne remarked.
Thankfully, the onus of teaching the campers life lessons wasn't solely on the shoulder of Prescott. Claiborne also imparted his wisdom as a 26-year-old NFL veteran taken sixth overall in the 2012 draft by the Cowboys.
"It's really life is just about opportunity," said Claiborne. "It starts off the field. It starts off the field. It starts at home. I was just telling them that if football is something that they want to do, they have to put everything into it. If this is what you want to do, then you have to work for it. And like I said, it doesn't start on the football field. It starts off the football field and at home, in the classroom. That's where it all starts."
"Make the right decision," Prescott told the kids. "Never look back and say, 'Man, if I would have done the...' That's the smallest word with the most meaning: if. Get rid of it. Get it out of your dictionary. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself and make the most of it. Have effort, have passion about what you do, instill it, and never think about it and you'll go a long way."
Afterwards, Prescott stated he wished such camps as the one Claiborne put together would have been around when the Cowboys fourth-round pick from this May was of comparable age. That reason has been the motivating factor behind Claiborne's decision to hold the camp every summer.
"When I was coming up, we didn't have a lot of camps and stuff like this when I was coming up through school," said Claiborne. "I can remember clearly the camps that I've been through through my whole life. And one of those were I went to Louisiana Tech camp one time. And I went to LSU camp. Those were about the only two camps that I attended ever in my life. So, it wasn't a lot of camps. I wish we had a lot of stuff like this going on when I was in school. But we didn't have it."
Now they do in Shreveport. Claiborne was especially pleased with the turnout at his camp this year, a turnout that exhausted his allotment of free T-shirts by the end of the first session.
Estimates of attendees at Claiborne's camp was anywhere between 400 to 500 kids. If Claiborne chose to charge even $50 per camper, he would have made between $20,000 to $25,000. Instead, he hosted the camp for free, gave out T-shirts, Gatorade, autographs, and Chick-Fil-A.
"It was a good turnout. We had a lot of fun. Just mainly the same thing as last year, just trying to get the younger kids to be around some guys from the NFL and from the college level to just talk some football and just talk some off-the-field."
Meanwhile, across the country, another Cowboys former first-round also had "a lot of fun.'' That would be Dez Bryant, who played some pickup basketball in LA and as you can see by this TMZ link, looks healthy. (As long as Britt Brown, Cowboys trainer, thinks it's OK!)