Fairfax junior Devin Rickenbacker works on staying low during a drill at the Big Like Me camp. Rickenbacker started on the offensive line as a sophomore on the varsity team, and he’s looking to dominate on both sides of the ball this year. This camp can help him reach his goals. Photo by Jason Lewis
Players work on the techniques that all linemen must have. As Brian Price says, “No line no shine.” Photo by Jason Lewis
Former Crenshaw defensive tackles Brian Price (UCLA, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Brandon Mebane (Cal, Seattle Seahawks), and former Verbum Dei linebacker Akeem Ayers (UCLA, Tennessee Titans) saw a need for young football players who were just like them. They are big, and most football camps are not geared toward them.
“Big Like Me is a camp for big kids that play high school ball that need help on the technical side,” Price said. “We want to help these kids that are big because we were them at one point.”
Most football camps are for skill position players (quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, defensive backs and linebackers), and there are passing league games nearly every week during the football off-season. But the game is won and loss in the trenches, with the big men, so it does not make much sense that there are not more camps of this kind.
“Without the linemen you can’t win,” said Lee Lowe, head coach at University High School. “There are receiver camps, there are quarterback camps. A lot of kids are big and can get lazy, so if there were more linemen camps then it would cut down on the kids being out of shape. If we focused on the linemen, a lot of teams would be a lot better, instead of just focusing on the skill positions.”
This is the second camp hosted at Crenshaw High School. The first year 50 players showed up, but this year was much bigger, with 217 players, and Price was extremely happy with the turnout.
“I’m glad for them because they didn’t have to show up,” Price said. “I know by them being here shows that they want to make something of themselves.”
The camp was not only on the field practice, but off the field as well. The camp featured nutrition training, SAT prep, and each player was given vital information about how they can make it to college as a student/athlete. Price emphasized the need to do well in school.
“You can’t make it to the next level without grades,” Price said. “All the answers are in the book. If you want to make A’s, all the answers are right there. Open the book and read and you’ll have all the answers. I tell them that you don’t want to get out of high school or college and regret. And realize how easy it was.”
When the athletes hit the field it was time to go to work, and Price made sure that they knew how important they are, even though a lot of the glory goes to skill position players.
“In football no line no shine,” Price said. “A play wouldn’t be anything without an O-line or D-line. If a team wants to run on a defense, the D-line is the first line of attack. It’s on the D-line to stop the ball.
“We’re instilling the technique part of the game into these kids at an early age. I didn’t get my technique down until I got to the NFL. There, everybody is good, so you have to try something different.”
The athletes received breakfast and afternoon snacks, which were donated by 180 degrees and Still Standing. Lunch was catered and donated by Wahoo’s and the Matt Leinart Foundation. Leinart spoke to the athletes during the lunch break, and let them know that without them, no team would be any good.
Price, Mebane, and Ayers figured out how to make it to college and to the NFL, and they are doing their community a service by passing that information on to the younger generation.