June 24, 2017 - by
Winston, Noles Share Skills, Message At Elite Championship Camp

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Midway through Saturday’s Elite Championship youth football camp at Florida State, Jameis Winston took a snap, rolled to his right and delivered a beautiful touchdown pass in the opposite corner of the end zone.

It harkened back to the types of plays that Winston used to make during his time as a Heisman Trophy- and national title-winning quarterback with the Seminoles. Only this time, his receiver was about 11 years old and maybe five feet tall.

Winston and a handful of his teammates from the 2013 and 2014 Seminoles joined some current FSU football players for a free youth football camp that taught dozens of area kids, in grades 6-8, skills that related to both football and leadership.

Afterward, the campers gathered around Winston for a brief message and then took turns taking photographs and receiving autographs.

They all went home with camp t-shirts and bags, too.

“(The athletes) all came in, put hands on and taught the kids specific training about their position,” said Ricky Rabb, a childhood friend of Winston’s who helped organize the event. “They wanted to give them the right thing, not just a camp where guys run around and see NFL players just throwing the ball around. I wanted it to be a hands-on camp.”

Some of the most high-profile names in recent FSU football history were in attendance on Saturday. Winston, of course, was the main draw. But receiver Rashad Greene, tight end Nick O’Leary and defensive back Ronald Darby all participated, too.

As did current FSU standouts Derrick Nnadi, Matthew Thomas and Fredrick Jones.

“For some kids, football is their outlet,” Nnadi said. “I teach them kind of the same way my coach tells me. We start off with stance. When they have a good stance, everything else goes with it. So that’s the main thing. I’m just trying to focus on the little things.”

Greene, who left FSU as the program’s all-time leading receiver, gained a new appreciation for children upon the birth of his son, Rashad Jr., who was perched atop Greene’s shoulders for much of the afternoon.

“It’s an awesome experience just to be able to come out here and give your time and energy to kids that need it most,” Greene said. “Kids are the most important thing. Those are the things that matter. We’re just trying to come out here and give back.”

After football drills, Winston gathered the campers around to hear a special message from Payton Poulin, the FSU student who uses a wheelchair and grew close to Winston and his teammates during the 2013 and 14 seasons.

Poulin told the campers to chase their dreams, no matter what anyone says, and to take responsibility for their choices.

He then handed the microphone over to Winston, who spoke for about 10 minutes about the importance of persevering through adversity and doing the right thing.

“You have to make the decision,” Winston told the campers, “if you want to be regular or if you want to separate yourself from all your peers so you can be great.”

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