Camping out with a star

Youngsters get motivation from Eagles' DeSean Jackson.

Posted: June 30, 2012

DeSean Jackson stood over a scrawny 15-year-old who had collapsed into the overgrown grass, exhausted from doing push-ups in the heat Friday morning.

"Do you want to be great?" the Eagles Pro Bowl wide receiver asked the boy.

"Yes."

"Then get your knees off the grass and start doing some push-ups."

The boy looked at Jackson, the tattoos tracing down his arms, the green Eagles shorts and the retro L.A. Kings snapback hat. The boy looked rejuvenated and formed a plank, counting off the number of push-ups as he did them.

"Down, up, 1. Down, up, 2. . . ."

Jackson was at Moorestown Upper Elementary School for his third annual football camp for local youth ages 7-16. He arrived an hour after the camp started and walked across the field, stopping to help coach the players broken up into five groups based on age.

"Growing up, I used to attend a few NFL camps," Jackson said. "Honestly, it's a blessing. It's more physical than anything else. They can talk with and learn from and be inspired by an NFL player."

He threw passes to the two youngest groups. He told a group of preteens to keep pumping their arms as they went through agility drills. And he worked on strength and conditioning with the oldest groups.

Jackson also talked about the Eagles and the three remaining weeks before training camp opens on July 22.

"Everybody knows our skill and how close we've been in the past," Jackson said. "Contracts are out of the way now and we have one common goal now."

Jackson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was on hand, wearing a shirt with the word "staff" on the back, though he spent much of his time on the sideline talking on the phone.

"DeSean is very committed to being a role model," Rosenhaus said. "This time last year, we didn't know what his future was going to hold. Now he's able to just focus on football."

Here, the drills aren't any different than the ones these players learn at football practice. But the person running them is a hero to many of these young athletes - a hero who has the power to demand a few more push-ups out of a tired teenager.


Contact Chad Graff at cgraff@philly.com or 215-854-4550. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGraff

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