July 12, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Thirteen Tulane football players made a visit to the NFL Youth Education Town in New Orleans on Friday afternoon, playing games and visiting with the children who are spending their summer days at the facility located on South Broad Avenue.
The NFL Youth Education Town (NFL YET) is an educational and recreation center constructed in Super Bowl host cities to positively impact the lives of youths living in often-troubling neighborhoods. Each NFL YET is launched with a $1 million Super Bowl Legacy Grant from NFL Charities that is matched by the Super Bowl Host community.
During their visit, the Green Wave football stars spoke to over 150 children, dishing out advice on the importance of studying, exercising and staying in school. After redshirt sophomore Aaron Bryant asked the children if they wanted to be a collegiate athlete, hands shot up all over the room. He, along with freshman offensive guard Chris Taylor, freshman linebacker Nico Marley and freshman wide receiver Alex O'Neill shared the personal sacrifices they had to make in order to play football for Tulane.
In another room, freshman kicker Casey Spinelli talked to the kids about earning a spot on the roster, as many kickers do not receive scholarships during their first year. Freshman running back Sherman Badie and freshman Jarrod Franklin joined in on the talks.
After two groups talked in the rooms adorned with NCAA themed pennants - a Green Wave one was fittingly visible upon entering the building - the group headed outside where many of the Tulane student-athletes put the children through quick drills. Freshman defensive tackle Eldrick Washington and freshman cornerback William Townsend timed kids in an abbreviated version of the 40-yard dash, while freshman cornerback Jarrod Franklin lined them up, giving them the green light to start their sprint. On the other side of the field, freshman linebacker Sergio Medina and freshman defensive back Leonard Davis had the kids doing knee-high jogs and shuttles before stretching.
Freshman Luke Jackson played catch with a few of the kids, rolling out of an imaginary pocket and finding kids in stride. He quipped that he should have played quarterback instead of defensive end, if only he could `throw a football better.'
After the conditioning drills, the group split in four, where two separate two-hand touch football games commenced. The players coached the kids on the sideline, and served as referees, making calls on the two-hand tackles and when the children would run out of bounds.
"It's a great honor to be able to come out here and do this," said Medina. "When I was a kid, I always wanted to be around student-athletes because my dream was to grow up and become one. It's been great to give guidance to these kids and help them with the questions they had for us."
As a youngster growing up in Avondale, La., Medina stated that he spent some of his summer days at local camps where student-athletes from the area would stop by for a visit.
"It's been great to come out here and put a smile on these kids' faces," added Medina, brandishing a smile of his own. "Every student-athlete at Tulane needs to participate in something like this. It really can make a big difference to these kids."