ROCKINGHAM — Another Super Bowl victory for Dannell Ellerbe, this time as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, brought a large crowd out to the Richmond Senior High School practice fields for Ellerbe’s seventh annual USA Football FUNdamentals football camp on Saturday.
It was only the second time since the camp started — the first being after he won a title with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013 — that Ellerbe, a Hamlet native, had more than 350 kids participate in the three-and-a-half hour event.
Campers were split up into four groups (6-8, 9-11, 12-14, 15-17) and were put through a number of agility, carrying, catching, footwoork, speed and tackling drills while music was played from the loud speakers at the DJ booth.
“I feel like it went well. I just love seeing the kids out here running around, having fun, and working hard,” Ellerbe said. “I’m usually able to do my little drills with the linebackers, but I have so much to do now that I’m actually running the camp that I didn’t have time to do it … so whenever I get the chance to joke with a kid here and there, that makes my day.”
Aside from the fact that he was able to give back to the community and enjoy a few hours with the children, Ellerbe’s “high point” of the day was the opening speech given by his guest Wallace Peeples — who goes by “Wallo267” on Instagram.
Peeples, a Philadelphia native who spent more than two decades in jail, is now a motivational speaker and talked to the campers about staying true to who they are, following their dreams and keeping away from any bad influences.
“He delivered a great message. Seeing what’s going on around the county with all of the gangs and the drugs … I felt like it was much better for the kids to hear it from someone who has been through it,” Ellerbe said. “I feel like the kids paid attention and were glued in … and I’m just happy he was able to come.”
Peeples and his cousin Gillie da Kid, a hip-hop recording artist, were just a couple of the 30-plus volunteers who came out to help Ellerbe and his wife Shervella run the camp.
Also in attendance were New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (two-time Pro Bowler), Detroit Lions linebacker Jonathan Freeny (Super Bowl LI Champion), Buffalo Bills running back Tavaris Cadet, and free agents Bobby Rainey and LarDarius Webb (both members of 2013 Ravens Super Bowl team).
Former NFL linebacker Lee Robinson helped bring out the energy during the tackling drills and former Virginia Tech linebacker Tariq Edwards — a native of Cheraw, S.C. — danced with the campers all day long.
“There were a lot of kids so I’m glad we had all hands on deck,” Ellerbe said. “I mean, guys flew in from all over the country to come here, so it just shows how much all of my friends care about the kids and how much we’re willing to give back.”
At the end of the day, right before Ellerbe signed autographs, a total of 16 trophies were handed out to standout campers.
For the second year in a row, Mikyi Little (6-8) and Deuce Wilson (15-17) took home the “best all-around” awards in their respective age groups and Jalen Marshall was dubbed “fastest camper” out of all of the 15-17 year olds.
“This is our second year and we love what he’s doing for the kids,” said Littles’ mother, who made the 30-minute trip from Bennettsville, S.C with her family. “It’s a good opportunity for them to come out, display their talents and have fun … My favorite part is to just see the kids enjoy themselves and engage with all of the coaches.”
For a full list of the award winners from Dannell Ellerbe’s 7th annual USA Football FUNdamentals camp, log onto www.yourdailyournal.com/sports.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.