Superstar football camp wraps up

Published 11:24 am Monday, June 5, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – Another one’s in the books.

The 24th West Georgia Superstar Football Camp wrapped up on Saturday, with dozens of young players learning the finer points of the sport from a star-studded group of instructors.

The camp was created by LaGrange native Ruben Hairston, and it has been held without interruption ever since its inception.

Hairston, who played professional football for the Chiefs, has had plenty of help over the years with the camp.

Hairston’s right-hand man is Anthony “Boss” Freeman, who is largely responsible for putting together the impressive group of instructors that includes former collegiate and professional players.

This year, there were a lot of familiar faces among the instructors, but there were also a handful of newcomers, including former LaGrange High and Kentucky standout Randall Burden, as well as current Callaway High offensive lineman Keiondre Jones.

“We’ve got a lot of new guys that came up to help this year,” said Freeman, while watching the campers race up and down the field at Callaway Stadium on Friday.

As for the returning instructors, Freeman said their contributions are greatly appreciated.

“It’s a blessing, and they enjoy coming back and helping out,” Freeman said.

Many of the instructors played at Auburn, and most of them either played with or knew Nate Hill, the LaGrange native who died in 2007.

Hill, a four-year letterman at Auburn, died at the age of 41, and Hairston said the camp is a fine way for his friends to remember him.

“Most all these guys played with Nate Hill. It’s like a family,” Hairston said. “It’s like a family reunion. We go fishing, and do other stuff. And they enjoy it.”

One of the veteran instructors is Steve Wallace, a three-time Super-Bowl champion as an offensive lineman for the 49ers.

“Each and every one of you guys that are here, you’re special.,” Wallace told the campers. “And you’ll go on to have a wonderful story one day.”

The two-day camp was held on Friday and Saturday, and the young players stayed busy.

The campers went from station to station, with the instructors guiding them through numerous drills.

Hairston, a wide receiver in the NFL, barked out encouragement as the campers ran pass patterns.

“Good hands, boy. Good hands,” Hairston yelled out after one of the campers made a catch in coverage.

Some of the instructors were campers themselves a few years back, and now they’re on the other side.

Travis Hart, who won three state championships at LaGrange High, has been an instructor for the past few years.

Hart now realizes how much the instructors care for the campers, and that’s a message he passed along when everyone huddled together following Friday’s session.

“These guys, look around at all these guys, they see themselves in y’all,” Hart said. “They take time out of their day to come and volunteer for y’all.”

One of those instructors is Aundray Bruce, who starred at Auburn and was the number one pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1988 NFL draft.

“There’s no situation too hard, no mountain too high, no valley too low,” Bruce said. “If you want to achieve it, you can do it.”

Randall Burden, who has played Arena Football after leaving Kentucky, stressed to the campers the importance of focusing on school work as well as athletics.

“Like everybody else said, it’s about the grades,” Burden said. “You go to school, get your education. And don’t fool around with the wrong crowd. Get your job done, and play sports if you want to.”

OF NOTE: For a story on Steve Wallace, one of the NFL’s all-time great offensive linemen, check out Tuesday’s sports section.