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It’s no longer a secret. South Florida is becoming the year round destination for many professional athletes.
Whether it’s baseball, basketball, tennis, hockey and of course football, this is an area that many are flocking to – not just to retire – but to live, work, and yes, play.
We have talked about former NFL players giving back for decades in Miami-Dade and Broward. It wasn’t unusual to have icons such as Larry Ball and Reyna Thompson use their NFL pedigree to teach and coach. Just like to day – with Sedrick Irvin, Pat Surtain, Donnell Bennett, Torrie Cox, Earl Little, Darryl Porter, and now Hall of Fame-bound Jason Taylor and Sam Madison, coaching high school football locally. It is not new, but it certainly has proven to be fun for the youngsters and adults alike.
Last Saturday, with the summer camp season in full swing, a pair of former NFL standouts and other pro football players followed the lead of what so many are doing at the 1st Annual Allen & Colclough Football Clinic at Western High in Davie.
For former NFL standouts Ricardo Colclough and Cortez Allen, having successful careers in college and at the next level, has given both a keen insight to football and how to teach youngsters about the game and what to expect along the way.
“We both live down here and know from playing in college and professionally that some of the best athletes in the country are right here,” Colclough pointed out. “There are a lot of camps and combines to choose from down here, but where we differ is the overall experiences we both have had – on and off the playing field – which is very important.”
Colclough was drafted with the sixth pick of the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft out of tiny Tusculum College by the Pittsburgh Steeers. Along the way, he played with Cleveland, Carolina, Kansas City – as well as the CFL Edmonton Eskimoes, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts.
“Having been to so many places has helped me to see what may be missing in overall development along the way,” Colclough said. “That’s how we came up with the formula for this entire camp experience. Learn the game and everything about the game from people who have been there and can help the most.”
Allen grew up in Ocala, attending North Marion High – before playing his college football at The Citadel. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He quickly became a prominent member of the Steelers’ secondary who contributed to limiting passing yardage and forcing turnovers.
“The experience of attending a discipline school like The Citadel and having the opportunity to play in the NFL, with such a first class organization, gave me so much knowledge to pass on – not just from a football standpoint – but to relate to what needs to be done to succeed in life.”
Joining in on Saturday were a pair of former Florida State Seminole standouts in Toddrick Verdell (Houston Texans) and speedy Tony Carter (New Orleans Saints).
While former teammate and current Dolphin Lawrence Timmons was schedule to be on hand – the other instructors/coaches made an impression with the athletes in Davie. Chris Carter, Marquice Cole, Charles James and Kendell Smith all worked with the talented young men.
With many upperclassmen away at 7-on-7 events and college camps, the first annual event became a true showcase for the youngsters. Prospects like Western 2020 standouts Nick Birdseye and Ryan Miller. Both are among the best in the class in South Florida.
Having former NFL players instruct made a big difference to Birdseye, who was among the many who came out for the inaugural event.
“These are guys who have been where we all would love to get to,” Birdseye said. “Coming to something like this is important – especially when NFL players are there are show you and answer questions.”
With over 60 players in the NFL this past season from the #305 and #954, there is plenty of room for events like this – where learning is fun!
Catch the South Florida High Sports Radio Show each Monday night (9-10) on WQAM (560AM). For the past 10 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!