Edison football camp enlists NFL players to mentor local youth players

Edison High School’s varisty football team runs drills on Aug 9 to ready themselves for their season opener as the away team against Monroe Township High School on Sept 7.

Every summer, towns across New Jersey host youth football camps for local players.

But most don’t include a bunch of NFL players working as coaches and mentors.

That was the unique advantage of Edison Township’s Scoop & Score Youth Football Camp on June 24 at Edison High School. Seven current and former NFL players worked the camp, including former New York Jets wide receiver Michael Campbell, former Oakland Raiders receiver Rod Streater and current Raiders’ linebacker Tahir Whitehead.

The camp ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and was open to players ages 6-18. Almost 150 players paid the $25 entry fee and received the day of training plus the camp t-shirt.

The weather was sunny and camp organizers said the day went off without a hitch.

“It went great,” said Tony Golotta, the public relations and press person for Edison Township.

“It went wonderfully,” said Joyce Fircha, the acting director of recreation for Edison Township. “All the kids had a great time.”

“It was a smooth day,”  said Edison’s own Campbell, the event’s organizer and the youth outreach coordinator for the township. “It was a good opportunity for the kids to be around NFL guys, pick their brains and have fun playing football.”

The camp would not have been possible without Campbell, who planned the drills and life advice sessions that made up the four hours. He also recruited his NFL contemporaries to work as counselors on the varsity field at 50 Boulevard of the Eagles.

Campbell was a football standout at Edison High and then Temple University in Philadelphia, graduating from the latter in the spring of 2011. After graduation, he signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent, spending the next three seasons bouncing around the active roster, the practice squad and the free agent market.

The 2007 Edison grad spent parts of 2011 with the Jets, portions of 2012 with the St. Louis Rams and stretches of 2013 back with the Jets, but he never caught a pass in an NFL game. After two years in the Canadian Football League, he returned to Edison to start giving back to the local youth sports community.

Campbell remembered that Edison was one of the only towns in Middlesex County to not have a summer youth football camp. When he returned to his hometown after his professional career, the receiver realized that Edison still didn’t have one.

So he created the Scoop & Score Camp in 2017 and has turned it into an annual event.

“Every other town had a camp. It was a no brainer,” he said. “That was the first event I did as youth outreach coordinator.”

Campbell is involved with youth football throughout the Edison community. He is also the offensive coordinator of Edison High’s football team, which went 8-3 and reached the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 5 sectional playoff semifinals in 2018, losing to North Brunswick Township High School, 30-21. Under Campbell, Edison’s offense scored almost 26 points per game.

The 29 year old is happy back in his hometown. He gave the NFL a try, and now he’s combining his two passions, the youth community and sports, into one.

“I like to tell kids to have a long term plan. Sports is short term,” Campbell said. “Use sports. Don’t let sports use you.”

Campbell is still not sure what he wants to do long term. He may try to work for a collegiate football program or NFL team at some point.

But right now he just wants to focus on Edison football, especially the Scoop & Score Camp.

“Next year may be the last time I do it, so I want to do it big,” he said. “Maybe get a big name and open it to the general public.”

 

 

 

 

 

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