Former South Carolina and NFL player Langston Moore couldn’t think of a better way to spend a hot and humid Saturday in Columbia other than giving back to the kids of the community.
Moore, the current sideline reporter for the Gamecock Radio Network, was joined by several past South Carolina athletes in a free Eat2Win Camp for children ages of 7 to 17 at Irmo’s W.C. Hawkins Stadium. It’s the third year Moore has hosted the camp.
The focus was to provide the children facts about a healthy lifestyle. The camp featured one-on-one football and fitness instruction, nutritional coaching sessions, healthy eating tutorials and medical screenings for campers and parents.
“We try to use football to bring the kids in,” Moore said. “Once we have them, we try to give them two or three educational things, something they can take home. We try to work with the parents at the same time. Hopefully we’ll influence the kids to influence the parents and they can stick with one or two ideas and that can change the household.”
The cause hits close to home for Moore, a defensive line standout for the Gamecocks who also played in the NFL with Cincinnati, Arizona and Detroit from 2003 to 2009. He lost his father to congestive heart failure while in school at South Carolina, so he knows how important maintaining a healthy diet can be.
“I lost my father while I was in school and Preston (Thorne) lost his father before he actually came to Carolina,” Moore said. “We’re always striving for healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. It’s funny that when we played football, we had so many resources for healthy eating. The communities and folks that need it most don’t get those resources.”
Players came from near and far to help out. Former South Carolina running back Ryan Brewer, who lives in Columbia, was glad to lend a helping hand to the kids as well as see many guys he hadn’t seen in a while.
“Hopefully these kids will leave here today with either a football skill or something to help with their nutritional value. Maybe they will learn something that will stick with you for the rest of your life and can carry it on,” Brewer said. “We have guys here that I haven’t seen in a long time here. It’s great to give back to the kids but it’s fun for us to see some faces that we haven’t seen in a long time.”
Troy Williamson, Moe Brown, Shaun Smith, Willie Offord, Paul Beckwith and Jonathan Alston were among the more than 20 former players who participated in coaching drills.
“We have a vast array of different guys,” Moore said. “We had guys that played and got drafted and we have walk-ons, guys that were free agents. Everybody has a different path and hopefully the kids can connect with one of the guys to make this a memorable experience.”
The coaches weren’t limited to just football players either. Former South Carolina and Lower Richland basketball standout Rolando Howell was on hand as well. He just retired after playing 12 years overseas and lives in Irmo.
He was happy to be able to come out and support such a great cause.
“I’m trying to get back into the community,” Howell said. “I just got back from overseas and my career is over, so I want to reach out and help the best I can.”
With so many former South Carolina players on hand, they all had an opinions on how the Gamecocks can improve on last season’s disappointing 7-6 record after three straight 11-win seasons.
Most of the talk centered around the defensive front and showing vast improvement there. South Carolina finished with 14 sacks on the season.
“Obviously, the biggest thing was the inability to get a pass rush,” Moore said. “When we had one-on-one match-ups, guys didn’t really win. It’s one of those deals where they have to make a lot of changes and they have. Guys are getting their bodies in shape because with Coach (Jon) Hoke, you have to be able to run. I think the kids are excited and that sack number can triple this year.”
Smith, a defensive tackle who had a nine-year NFL career with New Orleans, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City and Tennessee, believes the Gamecocks can return to the top of the SEC with play up front.
“They have to get in shape,” he said. “The defensive line has to be in shape to play in the SEC. They wore down a little bit towards the end of the season. They have to play with better technique and learn to get off blocks. Everything starts up front, so that’s where they need to improve. I can see them bouncing back this year.
“I think we can play for an SEC title this year.”