Bishop Hendricken alumnus and former NFL veteran Will Blackmon returned home this past weekend to host the fifth-annual Will Blackmon FUNdamentals Football Camp at his alma mater, and hosted nearly 300 local players ranging from the youth to the high school level.
The camp focused on teaching the basics to the participants, while also providing a fun atmosphere with some of the top players and coaches from the Ocean State.
“I’m excited to be back and to give these kids an opportunity. We have a bunch of guys that have played college and pro from Rhode Island. Some people think that it’s untouchable, so I think it’s important to have guys from your own area,” said Blackmon, who’s main priority was educating players and parents in a lighthearted environment. “I emphasize fun, and it’s more so directed so that parents can see that yes, it’s an intense game, we’re teaching a physical game, but it’s fun. That’s the main thing, that’s why we have music, we’ve got ice cream, food, it’s all about fun.”
The camp was held throughout the say on Saturday, with youth campers playing in the morning and high schoolers in the afternoon. Sunday also marked the second-annual Will Blackmon-Kyle Rowley High School Combine, which hosted over 100 players and numerous college coaches and scouts.
The combine was created by the pair last year to provide local players the chance to showcase their skill in front of collegiate coaches, both locally and regionally.
“The cool thing with the combine is, is that people say they we’re slept on since we’re the smallest state, and rightfully so, people are only going to come here if you’re legit. I had to travel, Kyle had to travel, so our goal is to bring these colleges here so (the players) can be seen. I know a lot of people, I have resources, so it’s an investment for their future,” said Blackmon.
RI has seen a handful of players go on to play for top Division I programs over the past few seasons. Between guys like Xavier Truss, who is set to join the Georgia Bulldogs, and Lee Moses, who recently finished his career at UMass and was invited to the Arizona Cardinals’ offseason program, Blackmon feels that events like the combine have helped finally shed light on what RI has to offer on the gridiron.
“It’s definitely the exposure that they’re getting. I’m biased, but I think back to when I was in high school and that was kind of the golden era, every team had someone that was legit, and it’s unfortunate that not everyone was seen,” said Blackmon. “When I went to the Boston College camp, I brought Matt Sherry with me, I brought Jamie Silva with me, EJ Dewitt, Orlando Johnson, we had a little group that went to that camp, but now they’re starting to see that talent can come from anywhere.”