Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Hayes Pullard hosted his third annual football camp at Crenshaw High School on Saturday, July 15. Athletes throughout Los Angeles were able to learn from current NFL and college players.
“We all talk about leading by example and that’s exactly why I’d rather just bring everybody into one space where you can coach the young kids in football as well as educate them,” Pullard said. “That’s why I bring so many athletes and so many positive young men that took different routes.”
Pullard noted how hosting these camps are “a blessing.” Since his first camp, he earned sponsorships with the Lakers Youth Foundation, Westside Shoe Source and other organizations. From his experiences in attending football camps in his youth, Hayes noticed how those types of events were not hosted in the South L.A. area.
“Once I got accepted into the NFL, I was like, ‘this is the perfect time, there’s no wait time,’” Pullard said. “Being able to get 300-plus kids every single year, it’s amazing to me.”
The camp started off with the youth engaging in various drills to enhance speed and agility. The eager athletes worked on their strength with small medicine ball exercises and battle rope drills. Pullard invited the Lakers Foundation to his first camp in 2015, and the organization wanted to support.
“We brought our health and fitness trainers out to show the kids how to work out properly, how to stretch, how to warm up,” said Kiesha Nix, executive director of the Lakers Youth Foundation. “I actually came out as a guest three years ago and I was just really impressed with the commitment, the dedication and the passion of Hayes and all of his friends.”
The youth also took part in drills by position, with the pro players conducting offensive and defensive drills. There were also 7-on-7 competitions. Pullard’s camp welcomed both boys and girls to participate in workouts and learn the fundamentals of football.
“I play football and my brother’s here also and we just like to play,” said Amazyn East. “I played my first year [of football] two years ago.”
The camp was a homecoming for many of the NFL players who volunteered. For Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack and Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, they revel in assisting the youth of their college town.
“It’s just fun seeing all these kids out here enjoying playing football,” Jack said.
Players like Jaydon Mickens of the Oakland Raiders and Robert Woods of the Rams were cultivated in the CIF City and Southern Section respectively.
“I was in the same position they were in growing up in camps with some NFL players.” Woods said. “It’s something that you always remember.”
Crenshaw alums like Ajene Harris of USC and UCLA wide receiver Mossi Johnson also helped facilitate the camp. Remon Corely, the principal of Crenshaw high, sees Pullard as a role model and a proud alum.
“Alumni is very much a support to help Crenshaw,” Corely said. “We’re glad to have him come back not only to give back, but also to set an example for other young people to follow.”
At the end of the camp, the children were allowed to ask the players questions. Pullard and other players stressed the importance of persevering through obstacles, academic integrity, and positively reacting to negative situations.
“Hard work out-beats talent when talent don’t work hard, that means you can be the most talented person out there, but it somebody works harder than you, talent doesn’t mean anything,” said Cleveland Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey. “I tell kids that all the time.”