Titans players teaching kids football

Titans wide receiver Derrick Mason along with defensive player Randall Godfrey are hosting a Football Camp for boys 8-18. The idea is to take the stuff they learn on the football field and apply it off the field and in the classroom.

For approximately 200 wide-eyed young football players, the Derrick Mason-Randall Godfrey Football Camp is a chance for them to not only meet and greet some of the Tennessee Titans players, but an opportunity to learn from them as well.

Mason and Godfrey are hosting the camp, which runs through Saturday, at Lipscomb University in cooperation with Forever Sports.

Mason last year hosted the camp with former Titans safety Blaine Bishop, and this season has Godfrey as his new partner after Bishop departed for the Philadelphia Eagles.

"Blaine and I did it last year, and this year, Randall is taking Blaine's place," Mason said. "Blaine's presence last year was really good for the camp, and now Randall coming in here, being another high profile defensively player, is going to be really good for the kids, too."

While there are aspects of the camp, open for boys ages 8-18, that are fun, the youngsters also get a chance to learn some things as well — all part of the plan, according to Mason.

"What we're really trying to teach them, other than the basics, are discipline, paying attention to detail and respect," Mason said. "Respect, that's what you want to try to teach the younger ones, guys who are 12 and 13 years old. Right now, they're like sponges. They're willing to learn, so we're just trying to teach them as much as we can. We want them to take the stuff they learn on the football and apply it off the football field, apply it in the classroom."

The campers going through the drills are certainly getting a taste of the hard work it takes to be a success in football. Instructors from several college football program and several high school coaches are assisting the NFL players with the camp.

One coach, Darryl Payne of Texas Southern, was wearing a state trooper/drill sergeant hat with the words "Coach Pain" inscribed on the front of it as he put the campers though stretching drills, then had a smaller group doing push ups afterwards.

"They're seeing somebody they've watched on television for so many years and now they're getting a chance to actually be around them, interact with them and talk with them," Mason said. "I think it's good for them because they see the things we go through, and we get a chance to tell them what we go through. It's just not something that happens overnight. It's just not something that, because we're blessed with talent, we go out there and play. We've got to work hard and we tell them that. They see it once they get out there. We're teaching them the things that we know and it's just good for them."

In addition to Mason and Godfrey, who will be at the camp on Friday and Saturday, the players have recruited some current and former Titans to drop by as well. Defensive tackle John Thornton attended Wednesday afternoon's workout. Current Titan wideout Drew Bennett and former Titan Chris Sanders are expected to attend today. Quarterback Billy Volek and tight end Frank Wycheck may also make appearances.

There are additional benefits, other than just going through drills and meeting NFL players, according to Ron Iorio, chief operating officer of Forever Sports. It is a chance for high school prospects to be noticed by college coaches.

"I think they get a great opportunity to work with a lot of good college coaches and high school coaches," Iorio said. "Especially the older ones, it's one way for them to get looked at with some of the college coaches. There are a lot of coaches from the area here and a lot of high school coaches, too. What's great about the camp is this is more of a fundamental camp. You're never too old to work with your fundamentals. We strive to work on fundamentals and give the kids a lot of repetitions."

The youngsters don't seem to mind the hard work at all.

"I feel like I'm learning a lot so far," said Matt Henley, 15 of Boyd Buchanan in Chattanooga, who added that he could take what he learns this week and apply it to becoming a better football player.

And besides, "it's neat" learning at the hand of an NFL player, added 11-year-old Hunter Ramsey of Inglewood.

The other "neat" part of the process is that half the money raised through the camp will go to Mason's foundation and will be distributed to several charities.

"I'm starting a foundation, and half of it will go to my foundation, and we'll try to disperse it to charities of my choice," Mason said.

Mason also said he and Godfrey plan to make the camp an annual event.

"After last year, I knew I wanted to do it again, and I think if Blaine was here, he'd be doing it with me," Mason said. "But he's in Philadelphia now and not able to be here. It's an on-going thing. As long as the kids want to come out and have fun and as long as Forever Sports wants to do this with Randall and me, we're going to do it."

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