LEXINGTON, Ky. â€“ More than 550 youth football players learned the basics of the game at NCAA Football Youth Day clinics, part of the organizationâ€™s Youth Initiative Program, held in New Orleans, Atlanta and Albuquerque on July 22, 26 and 28, respectively. Coaches and student-athletes from 16 colleges led the players through drills that taught tackling, agility, offensive and defensive skills, and the value of good sportsmanship.
The preseason festivals grew as a result of last yearâ€™s program in New Orleans designed to rebuild the recreation departmentâ€™s youth football league after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Due to the pilot programâ€™s success, the clinics expanded to Atlanta and Albuquerque for 2008. Another part of NCAA Footballâ€™s Youth Initiative Program includes a grant that provides select teams and leagues with credits worth nearly $3,000 to be used in acquiring NCAA Football replica youth jerseys and pants through Russell Athletic, along with footballs from Wilson â€“ the official ball of NCAA Football. This yearâ€™s grant winners have received notification, and will be formally announced to media in mid-August.
The 2008 NCAA Football Youth Day tour began in New Orleans on July 22 at Pontchartrain Park with more than 150 youth participating. Coaches and players from Alcorn State University, Millsaps College, Nicholls State University, Southeastern Louisiana University and Tulane University were on hand to lead the youth football players through two hours of drills.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl hosted the Atlanta event on July 26 at Georgia Techâ€™s football practice facility with the help of athletic representatives from the school, as well as Auburn University, Georgia Military College, Georgia State University, Morehouse College, University of Alabama, University of Georgia and University of West Georgia. Bill Curry, Georgia State Universityâ€™s head football coach, kicked off the day with an inspirational speech to the more than 100 aspiring youth athletes in attendance.
The University of New Mexico was home to the New Mexico Bowlâ€™s NCAA Football Youth Day on July 28 in Albuquerque, with more than 280 participating youth in the clinic. University of New Mexico head football coach Rocky Long gave the opening speech, while other coaches and student-athletes from the school, New Mexico State University and Eastern New Mexico University led the drills.
â€œThe NCAA Football Youth Initiative continues to be an invaluable resource for youth across the nation who dream of pursuing higher education and playing college football,â€ said Bob Vecchione â€“ chair of the Youth Initiatives Committee. â€œWe hope to expand to more bowl communities next year, eventually partnering with all bowls that wish to participate and the BCS National Championship to make a difference for the teams and leagues in these cities.â€
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