Former NFL players share their expertise

Filed under SPORTS

Bruce McNorton’s football clinic brings out kids, coaches, former pro players

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

About 200 local youngsters participated in the annual Bruce McNorton Football Clinic held June 1-2 at the Derbyshire Sports Complex in Daytona Beach.

Kids do the parachute run drill during the annual Bruce McNorton Football Clinic.

The camp brought together local youngsters ages 6 to 20 with football coaches at all levels and even former NFL players.

Even recently retired NFL star/Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin “Megatron’’ Johnson showed up for the second day of the camp.

“It’s a success. The kids came out. They were enthusiastic. I appreciate the youth football coaches who got their players out. The Daytona Beach Cowboys program had the most kids,” McNorton stated, referring to a local youth football program.

12th in Daytona
McNorton also is a former NFL player who played nine seasons with the Detroit Lions and spent one on the Miami Dolphins roster.

Nowadays, McNorton works as a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers, a position he has held for 18 years.

He has been doing the clinic free of charge for 17 years now, including 12 in Daytona.

The clinic is all about the youth; many have been attending for years.

Top: Older youth (in middle school and high school) listen to instruction from a coach/trainer.
Bottom left: A coach gives motivational instruction to a youth.
Bottom right: Mark Lewis works with one of the 200 kids who participated.

Kids, trainers return
Areon Flanournay, 12, has participated for three straight years.

On the first day of the camp Flanournay said, “I think it is a good camp. We do a lot of work and exercises. I think this clinic helps makes me a better football player. The coaches also talk to us about being better people and building character.”

Youngsters go through tackling drills.
(PHOTOS BY DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

The coaches and trainers also have been coming for years.

Former NFL player James Cribbs played about two and a half years with the Detroit Lions.

Cribbs commented, “For me doing this wakes up my soul. It’s exciting to see kids excelling and having so much fun. Bruce gives them first-hand knowledge to see what football is like with the right attitude, family and purpose. Every year the camp is a success. Most of the kids come back.

I’m proud of Bruce for doing this. He is more than a friend. I look up to him.”

Cribbs is related to former Cleveland Browns star kick-return specialist and wide receiver Joshua Cribbs.

Character-building camp
Coaches and trainers at the camp motivate youth in football drills as well as teach life lessons.

“Every year it’s different kids from Daytona and the area. They hear about the camp’s success. It really doesn’t’ make a difference where they come from it doesn’t mean that they can’t get where they want to go,” Cribbs explained.

“We try to reach them early about building character and what it takes to be a football player. It’s not just about being an athlete, but it’s about being good young people, being able to think and make good decisions. I think team sports are one of the best ways to build character. It challenges you to bring out your best. Everyone can’t play football. The kids that come out already show that they have character.’’

The clinic battled weather as both days had dark, cloudy and rainy skies.

“We did have to deal with the weather. It was cloudy and rainy both days. On the second day, the rain came after we finished up. It may have stopped people from coming out, but we still had a lot of people come out and enjoy it,” said McNorton.

Eligibility seminar
An NCAA eligibility seminar for high school players on May 31 at the Yvonne Scarlett Golden Cultural & Educational Center.

Thirty-two kids and seven parents attended the event designed to give information on what high school players need to have done to be eligible to play college football.

McNorton added, “The seminar had a good turnout. We wanted more parents but the kids did come and get some valuable information. They also got more information on how to use recruiting websites like Rivals.com and Hudl, which provides their information for college coaches.”

Other former NFL players who taught at clinic included Kelvin Fisher, James Jones, John L. Williams, Ernie Mills as well as locals like Chris Isaac who spent time in the Canadian Football League.

Most former players played in the 80’s and early 90’s like McNorton.

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