CARSON, Calif.—Jacory Harris laughed while he discussed his favorite part of the football skills clinic at Carson High School. The star quarterback from the University of Miami got a kick out of his brief, rare stint as a real-life tackling dummy on Thursday.
“My favorite part was holding one of the dummies at one of the first stations and letting guys run through me,” Harris told Pro Player Insiders in an exclusive interview. “That was pretty fun because they literally tried to run me over.”
Approximately 200 high schoolers participated in a football clinic with players set to play in the AstroTurf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, kicking off Saturday in Los Angeles. The clinic promoted healthy lifestyles and fitness skills as part of One Team One Community, the NFL Players Association’s public service platform.
“When we introduced ourselves, there were some kids screaming. It was a nice experience and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to do this,” Harris said.
One Team One Community gives partners the chance to come together with players and give back to their communities. Past events in the community have included support for the military, hospital visits, re-planting of community gardens, health and wellness clinics and fundraising events to name a few.
“One Team One Community is a great thing because we were in the same position as they were once, and coming back to show them that we appreciate them and we care, it’s a great feeling,” Harris said. “I know when I was a kid I wanted the same thing to happen, when all the guys from the NFL would come back and help us. We really appreciate it.”
Thursday’s two-hour clinic featured kids participating in non-contact football and running drills, led by the collegiate all-stars. The students included those on the Carson football and wrestling teams. Members of the NFLPA Former Players-Los Angeles chapter, representatives from AstroTurf and local community officials also were present. Autographed footballs and other memorabilia were raffled off to students at the clinic’s conclusion, when Harris gave a positive, stay-in-school message to the attentive audience.
Wisconsin defensive tackle Patrick Butrym said, “When we were that age, we were so willing to learn and impress everybody. When kids ask you for advice, it’s something you really appreciate and we’re very fortunate to be in the position that we are in.
“I remember when I was that age and how appreciative I was to older players, and it’s just cool to pass it down.”
The students asked players questions like their positions, colleges and football experience. As the collegiate stars seek to make it to the next level of their football careers, they called it a “cool” reminder that just a few years ago, they were in those students’ shoes.
“I think community service is extremely important and [something] all athletes should do, because we definitely have a platform and an opportunity to use our status as an athlete to influence other kids and give back to a community that gave a lot to us,” Butrym said.