Former Purdue standout and current Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer tries to make it back to his hometown of Fort Wayne four or five times a year.
Notre Dame five-star OLB commit Jaylon Smith puts in work at last Saturday's RAS camp.
His latest visit home was a big deal.
Spencer teamed up with local group Athletes With Purpose (AWP) for the first annual Redefining Athletic Standards camp last Saturday at Trine University in nearby Angola.
The event was a huge success, as 150 high school football players from across the Midwest got a chance to work out under the tutelage of college coaches and AWP instructors. Among the many Division-I prospects that attended included five-star outside linebacker Jaylon Smith, who committed to Notre Dame after the event and Top-100 class-of-2014 running back Jeff Jones.
The college coaches were highlighted by assistants from Illinois, Iowa, Notre Dame, Purdue and Wisconsin. Schools from all different levels were represented.
“I think it went well,” Spencer said. “It was a great turnout. We had a lot of great coaches out here and good competition out here.
“It’s my first time doing something like this. I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s definitely bigger than I thought it would be.”
Michael Ledo and his AWP organization have been doing big things in the Hoosier State for a while now. Along with his partners and employees, they’ve been giving athletes in the Fort Wayne area a year-round opportunity to get better at their craft, as well as provide mentorship to kids off the field. The RAS camp was Ledo’s brainchild, and Spencer’s backing helped push it over the top.
“We had a lot of awesome coaches out there,” Ledo said. “A first-year event, it’s awesome to have Wisconsin, Iowa, Notre Dame, Illinois and Purdue. I think we had some of the best coaches in the Midwest here.
“I think AWP did a tremendous job of getting kids some technical tools in preparing for one-day camps. Some different technical stuff to help them compete. I think that’s really good from an educational standpoint.”
Besides working on their skills on the football field, the kids participated in chalk talk and Q&A sessions with the college coaches at the camp. Motivational speaker Eric Thomas talked to the group about the secrets to success off the field.
Spencer and Ledo already have ideas to take the RAS camp to another level in year two. One plan is to add a basketball component.
“We’re seeing little things to improve on,” Ledo said. “The plan going forward in the future is to build on it bigger. At the end of the day, the biggest objective is the kids leave here at the end of the day, from the field part, to the instructional part, we want the kids to leave and say that was awesome.”
“I see it getting bigger and bigger every year, and getting more kids out here,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing, just having the kids see the different competition level you don’t get to see just playing against your own team. That’s when you really start to grow a lot. Bringing a lot of different people together and competing makes you better.”