Legends of Tennessee Football Camp returning with goal of helping young athletes on and off the field this summer
How important is the “Legends of Tennessee Football Camp” to the event’s director, Jabari Davis? Not even the Coronavirus could stop the former Tennessee running back from doing what he had to do to bring the event together for the third year in a row.
The “Legends of Tennessee Football Camp” began after Phillip Fulmer created his “Hall of Fame Football Camp” before being named athletic director at Tennessee. Once Fulmer was once again an employee on Rocky Top, he could no longer run the camp, so Davis stepped up and now helps organize the annual event.
Last year, the event was able to be held all across the state of Tennessee, including camps in Nashville, Clarksville, Columbia, and various locations in West Tennessee, but this year’s edition will be limited to East Tennessee with upcoming dates set for Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26 at Wear Farm City Park in Pigeon Forge.
While the camp is primarily designed to help teach the state’s youth the necessary tools to find success on the gridiron and help propel them to greater success on the field, it serves multiple purposes as former standout Volunteers get to come together and strengthen their bond each offseason and has grown to a level where the camp has been able to create a scholarship fund to help in-state students once they reach college.
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“It’s a great day of brotherhood, getting former Vols back together again back in the community, working with kids, uplifting kids and just uplifting people in the community,” Davis told Saturday Down South. “Just spend some great time together, sharing Tennessee football stories with the young generation — because a lot of these kids don’t realize how powerful we were at a time and era of college football. We’re going to get back to those days and it starts with these kids. So, we want to give them the blueprint of what it takes to be successful and we just came up with a camp idea to keep it going.”
Each year, Davis reaches out to former Tennessee players willing to lend their time to help participate in the camp. This year, the camp is set to feature former Vols Jayson Swain, Robert Ayers, Terry Fair, Justin Harrell, Brett Kendrick, Eric Westmoreland, Chris Treece, Erik Ainge, and many more.
As Davis explains, being a VFL is something former Tennessee players take seriously and those relationships extend well beyond the playing field or the era in which players suited up in Orange on Rocky Top.
“That VFL goes beyond just the football field,” Davis commented. “We’re Vols for life, brothers for life and we hold that friendship from the gridiron to our personal lives with our kids and with our families.”
With summer camp activities seemingly dwindling by the day, Davis believes the camp can serve as a rare opportunity to unite during an offseason dominated by COVID-19.
“Being heavily affected by COVID-19, we just want to come together just one weekend and just make it right for the kids and just to be around each other again so we could share some of those life-changing stories and moments that we experienced on the field playing at UT and what it takes to be successful student-athletes in today’s time,” Davis added. “I think every kid needs a mentor, somebody that can teach them the ropes of what steps you need to take in order to get to that level.”
So what can athletes interested in attending the camp expect to get out of the event? Davis makes a great pitch for attending the camp — If you dream of playing college football, particularly at Tennessee, what better way to get there than to learn what it takes to get there from former players that have lived the life that led them to that goal?
“I would say 90 percent of the kids around here, their dream is to play at UT one day. We experienced it, we lived it and we had people that helped us get to that level and when you make it to a certain point in your career, you gotta show the next generation how to get to those same types of goals,” Davis said. “So, that’s what the camp is all about: football, family time, fellowship and brotherhood and just getting everybody together for a positive event since everything has been so negative man in the communities and on the news. These kids don’t need to see this stuff they see people doing it the right way.”
While many camps across the state have shut down this spring and summer, Davis wanted to do his part to give East Tennessee athletes an opportunity to continue their development on the football field. With that in mind, while the camp may be limited this season, the former Tennessee running back couldn’t completely shut down the annual event.
“This summer was so unique and different because the University of Tennessee had canceled every camp, because of the COVID-19 stuff,” Davis shared. “My kids camped at UT over the last five years and I had friends that attended those UT camps, and with nothing going on in this state, besides Josh Dobbs — he does some stuff but I don’t know if his stuff got canceled.
“There were no other youth to middle school football camps going on at all and you know how important those camps are when it comes to development and that mentoring that those kids get from these coaches. So we just had to do something. We had to figure out a way where we could make it right, make it healthy, make it clean, for these kids so they can be successful over the summer.”
And, of course, the camp will be following new COVID-19 guidelines to ensure everyone has a fun and safe environment to enjoy.
“We do have to follow new COVID outlines rules, and that is all on the registration guidelines, but your kid will have fun, we will be safe, we’ll be playing and we’ll do it the right way,” Davis shared.
Registration for the 2020 Legends of Tennessee Football Camp can be found here at the camp’s official site, UTLegendsCamp.com.