NFL player hosts youth football camp in hometown - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

NFL player hosts youth football camp in hometown

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SPARTA -- Any professional athlete will tell you, anything is possible if you put your mind to it. That was also Darius Jackson's message to hundreds of kids during his second annual Football Camp in Sparta.

Dallas Cowboy running back Darius Jackson feels very nostalgic about returning home to host his youth football camp.

"Coming back, it's a blessing. With the turnout we have, I mean, my best friends are out here helping me. The parents are grilling out like old Sparta baseball legion days. I couldn't ask for a better day, honestly," said Jackson.

More than 200 hundred kids came out to learn a thing or two from the hometown legend.

"Worked on defense and offense and running routes and tackling the dummies," said 9-year old Gavin Watson from Sparta.

While the camp worked on skills to help the young athletes on the field, Jackson hopes his own story helps to inspire these kids to be great in whatever it is they do.

"And that's exactly why I come back, to let them know I was in the exact same spot that they are. It's not even about achieving your dreams as a football player, achieving your dream in general," said Jackson.

"He started as a kid just like me, and he built his way up to the NFL, and I want to be just like him," said 13-year old Brian Kline from Waterloo.

And while his second camp is officially in the books, the Sparta-native is already planning on a bigger and better camp the next time he comes home.

"Next year, I'm going to progress it to a 7-on-7, where the high schools from the surrounding areas will come here and compete. I'll have a prize, but it's really just another tournament to get the schools better, get the teams closer, and bring notoriety to Sparta," said Jackson.

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