Two days before Auburn University and the University of Georgia will decide the Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 175 Atlanta Public School middle school students hit the field under the guidance of former college and National Football League (NFL) players, during the SEC Youth Football Clinic.
Sponsored by USA Football, the one-day event gives students the unique opportunity to learn lessons in football and in life in a big-time football venue. The event is held during the week of the SEC Championship Game and had been hosted at the Georgia Dome, previously.
Students from seven APS middle schools were represented at the event, Thursday (Brown, Bunche, Inman, King, Long, Sylvan and Young Middle School). They rotated through a number of stations, participating in a different football-related drill at each. At the end each student received a t-shirt, lunch courtesy of Jersey Mike’s Subs, and a football.
“I preach education,” said Michael Haynes, a 10-year NFL veteran, who played receiver for the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. He is a graduate of Northern Arizona University. “At some point, football ends for everybody. I try to get them to focus on their plan for what comes next. Education is forever.”
“It’s a great opportunity for our kids to get some football instruction but also hear positive messages to help them be successful,” said Jasper Jewell, APS Director of Athletics. “And the beautiful thing is that it is specifically for our kids.”