By Jurry Taalib-Deen
Journal Staff Writer

For 20 years, children from all over Toledo have either been able to sharpen their defensive skills in football, or hone their offensive attacks by either throwing, or running with the old pig skin, during the off-season at the Dr. Carnel Smith Football Camp.

Foot drills to develop speed and coordination, or being able to throw a football while on the run, from a defensive back, were just two of those skills players learned during the week of June 13-17 on the football field of Scott High School, 2400 Collingwood Blvd.

Dave Friddell, defensive backs coach at St. John’s High School conducts defensive line drills.

Started by Dr. Carnel Smith, the current principal of Scott, and a 1985 graduate, played on the collegiate level, the NFL and overseas. His passion for helping young athletes attracts current, and former players, and coaches from all over the city with a desire to help the youth.

Over the years, Dr. Smith always emphasized that football, “Is a thinking man’s game.” Having to memorize thick playbooks, anticipate another player’s move, and have all the senses aware of everything, and everybody around you, are just a few of the points Dr. Smith points to, showing that the game has evolved.

“There are at least 130 kids here for the camp,” he told The Toledo Journal on the second day of the camp. “They learn all types of skills surrounding the defensive, and offensive aspects of the game. But more importantly, they learn real life skills via football. We also try to give them the feel of what it’s like being a student athlete. They have homework everyday that they must bring in. They learn a word of the day, and must write down the definition and be able to use that word effectively in a sentence,” Dr. Smith said.

Considered by many people as the most challenging position, cornerbacks work on their foot drills.

He also pointed out that some children have been attending the camp for years, and don’t play football for a team at all. They like learning life skills, Dr. Smith said.

Jule Clark’s seven year old son is attending the camp for the first time. “I like the fact it’s family oriented here, and my son has the opportunity to meet kids from all over the city,” she said.

“I love the fact my son gets to be around so many positive male figures,” said Lamaria Gillard. “This keeps them out of trouble, and the fact that they’re given breakfast, and lunch, is very rare. I really wish it was longer.”

“This is a good opportunity for me,” said nine year old Lamarion Gillard, who plays quarterback, running back, and sometimes offensive line. “I’ve learned how to work hard, and really listen to what I’m being told.”

“The camp is cool to me,” said nine year old Blake Cooper Jr., who plays wide receiver, quarterback, and cornerback, during the regular season for the Mid-City Lions. It’s his second time attending the camp, and he said he really likes the discipline because, “It helps me get better.”