Maclin kicked off his second annual youth football camp at the RiverWinds Community Center in West Deptford, N.J., on Monday morning, instructing children ages 6 to 17 in the fundamentals of football. The camp, which runs for 3 days, benefits the Jeremy Maclin Foundation, a nonprofit started by Maclin to assist youth and families forced into alternative living situations.
"The foundation comes from my upbringing. I wanted to give back and I'm in a position to do that," Maclin said. "As long as I'm blessed and in the condition I'm in, I will continue to give kids opportunities in football."
Growing up, Maclin never knew his father and his mother experienced difficulties, on and off. Beginning in his sophomore year in high school, Maclin moved in with a family in suburban St. Louis.
The program was designed to enhance campers' football skills while emphasizing fun and the necessity of education, discipline and leadership. Assisting Maclin as coaches at the camps are many of his college teammates from the University of Missouri, including Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danario Alexander. The professional players were joined by volunteers from local high school and college football programs.
"Having my old teammates here with me means a lot," Maclin said. "It's a testament to how close we stayed and hopefully a message to the kids about how important your teammates are. This is a bond that we'll share forever."
Many of Maclin's Eagles teammates, including LeSean McCoy, Jamar Chaney, Trent Cole, Mike Kafka and Jaiquawn Jarrett, will be joining him as coaches for the camp's remaining 2 days. Maclin will be running his second football camp of the summer from July 12 to 14 in St. Louis. McCoy and Michael Vick will make the trip to coach at the camp as well.
As the morning began, campers young and old were left starstruck when Maclin and Weatherspoon addressed them. Leaving the football talk for the field, the players spoke to them about the importance of being a good teammate and making smart decisions.
Maclin never had the opportunity to participate in football camps run by NFL players when he was growing up in Chesterfield, Mo., though he was adamant that the importance of this camp was not that they were being coached by professional players, but the mere fact that they were getting on the field. According to Isaiah Mares, Maclin's manager, 115 of the 160 campers are receiving scholarships to participate in the camp from the Jeremy Maclin Foundation and its corporate partners, Modell's and Penn Capital Management.
"It's a tremendous time of year for Jeremy and his teammates and friends to be charitable," Mares said. "We're hoping that this will continue to grow and he'll continue to touch lives and one day this will be a completely free camp for everyone."
The morning's events consisted of conditioning and drills before the NFL players taught techniques and drills pertaining to their individual position, giving the campers perspective from both sides of the ball. The activities concluded with seven-on-seven game action.
Although life after football seems a long way down the road for Maclin and Weatherspoon, the camp provides the budding stars an opportunity to look to the future. Both said they plan to continue their philanthropic effort after their football careers are over as well as break into coaching. For Weatherspoon, who said that he wants to coach and be a role model for younger kids, the camp holds special significance.
"I feel like coaching is something I can do after I finish playing football. I love being around the kids. I would want to go back to the high school level or the junior football level and work with younger kids," Weatherspoon said. "If one kid out here listens to us I feel like we're doing the right thing. If I was a kid and I had NFL players coaching me, I know it would have made a difference in my life."