Langston Moore’s Eat2Win Football Camp isn’t just teaching the proper three-point stance or how to wrap up a tackle. It’s about proper nutrition, health and other tips for rounding out the life of a football player.
Even though the campers haven’t yet entered high school, some of the counselors are also mentoring them on what to expect if they reach the NFL, whether as a first-round draft pick or an undrafted free agent.
“It’s a business, especially when you leap from high school going to college,” said Shaun Smith, recently retired after a 10-year career. “I don’t want to say politics but it is politics sometimes. It’s, ‘What can you do for me? If you can’t help us win, we ain’t going to play you.’ ”
Smith was part of several former South Carolina players and NFL alums who were helping Moore run his camp on Tuesday. He represented one of the several success stories. He played for the Gamecocks for one year but still made it to the big time after going undrafted.
A junior-college signee, Smith started one game for USC in 2002. He declared for the draft, wasn’t picked and signed as a free agent with Dallas. After bouncing from practice squad to practice squad, Smith caught on with New Orleans in 2004, which began a career covering five NFL teams and 102 games.
He recently filed his retirement papers and is volunteering as a high-school coach in Dallas, while earning his teaching certificate (so he can be a head coach someday), helping train linemen and being a family man to his wife and three children.
Smith can relate to Moore’s camp goal of eating healthy and staying in shape because of his career. It wasn’t easy walking the line between beefy and healthy as a defensive lineman, but Smith did it.
“You come in, you’re talented, you’re a No. 1 guy, but if you’re lazy, you’re out of shape, you can’t follow the rules, they get rid of you,” Smith said. “It’s the same way in the NFL. You got a weight limit, you got to pass your conditioning test, you got to know your playbook, but if you get it right, you can make it 10 years like me. With anything, put your mind to it and give 100 percent. I’m a proven, living witness of it.”
Troy Williamson played five years in the NFL but was also imparting wisdom to campers on Tuesday. A No. 7 overall draft pick in 2005, Williamson played in Minnesota and Jacksonville but was always keeping an eye on the future. When his career ended sooner than he expected, the plans that he had been keeping in the back of his mind were put to use.
“When I first got drafted, I had some fun. I took care of my mom, my godfather,” Williamson said. “It’s a position you’ve never been in before. But you have to think, ‘What am I going to do when I finish playing? What are some things I can do while I’m playing?’ ”
Williamson lives in Evans, Ga., with his wife and three sons, and owns Which Wich? franchises in Aiken. He soon will open Smoothie King stores.
Still USC’s leader in single-game receiving yards (210, 2004) and the receiver for USC’s longest passing play (99 yards from Dondrial Pinkins, 2003), Williamson found out that you can’t always out-run everything. For NFL players, real life will always catch you.
It’s knowledge that he can pass on to USC’s most recent NFL entries, whether they’re the No. 1 pick (Jadeveon Clowney) or an undrafted free agent (Kelcy Quarles).
“I’m glad I was able to be around the people who taught me the business side of the NFL,” Williamson said. “Your career’s not going to last forever. You have to have some plans afterward. Take care of your money, put yourself around people that can help you do that.”
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