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Christopher Owens talks to Dorsey High School football players before they break off into drills. (Photo by Jason Lewis)
Christopher Owens watches a Dorsey football player perform a drill during the camp. (Photo by Jason Lewis)
By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Sentinel
Dorsey High School football is about grit and toughness. It's about winning on the football field. But former Dorsey standout and current Atlanta Falcons corner back Christopher Owens preached the other side of the battle at his football camp at his alma mater; academics.
"These kids are students first, athletes second," Owens said. "We emphasize, of course, the football part, but we spend just as much time in the classroom."
The first half of the day long camp was spent educating the players on the path to college.
"One thing we wanted to focus on was the A through G requirements because a lot of these kids don't even know about the A through G requirements, so they do not even know what classes they are supposed to take," Owens said. "We tell them to take these classes just so that they will be eligible to go to college."
Many student-athletes are unaware of the classes that they need to go to college, so many of them are left out of the recruiting process because they missed classes that they needed.
Most sports camps focus solely on the field, but Owens, who attended San Jose State University, wanted the players to see the entire picture.
"The education portion was really unique to the camp," Dorsey Head Coach Paul Knox said. "It wasn't all skill on the field but it was also about getting some education about the recruiting process, about the classroom skills as well. It's been really helpful."
Owens' sister, Shannon Owens, who was the camp director, focused on more than just football.
"The purpose of today is to uplift these young black men," Shannon Owens said. "There is more to football than what's on the field. You have to have the educational component to be successful. The career of an NFL player is just five years. Once you hit the five-year mark you need to have something to fall back on, which is your college degree. You don't want to be a 25-year old man without earning potential.
After learning about the importance of a good GPA and SAT score, the players hit the field with Owens and the Dorsey coaching staff. When asked if he saw some talent out there, Owens rolled his eyes and said, "Come on, it's Dorsey!"
Owens would not be surprised if one of these players one day tried to take his job. He said that he would not be mad, because he and the Dorsey coaching staff would have helped train that player.
Coach Knox was certainly proud of his former player for giving back to the program.
"It makes me feel really good because that's one of those things that we preach to our kids all the time, it's your responsibility after you leave here to go out and get the best education possible," Coach Knox said. "When you do that come back to the community and try to help somebody else like somebody helped you. Seeing our players do that, especially Chris, actually applying that and giving something positive back to the young men who go here and live in the community makes me real proud of him."