Former NFL player brings program to Yazoo

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

It's an uncommon thing to see a former NFL athlete pass through a small town. It's even more uncommon to have one bring with him a free summer program for local youth. 

Over 70 children and teens from all over Yazoo County were given the opportunity of a lifetime last week to participate in one of many summer training programs put on by former Baltimore Raven Lardarius Webb.

Many may remember Webb's career as a Raven, especially his team's championship win at Superbowl XLVII in 2012.

While he is originally an Alabama native, Webb and his wife have settled in the Madison area now that he has retired from the NFL.  Lately he has been spending his time by bringing youth programs to cities across central Mississippi.

"A lot of kids don't have anything to do during the summer," Webb said. "Basically what we are trying to do is just keep these kids off of the street and out of trouble."

Webb got the idea to start the summer programs, and used social media to reach out into communities that needed support for their local youth.

So far he has camps set up at different times each week this summer in areas such as the community park in Terry, and at Callaway High School in Jackson.

"One of the guys who has been helping me get our name out there came across a friend of his from Yazoo City, and that is how we ended up here," Webb said.

It was through this network that Webb's friend Zavian Bingham, a former Jackson State University athlete, touched base with another JSU athlete and Yazoo City native, Andre Lloyd Jr., and word of a potential camp for Yazoo City spread like wild fire.

By the afternoon of May 30, there were 70 local students between the ages of 7 and 17 who were ready to practice with the big dogs and learn the skills of a professional athlete.

"At this camp we do a lot of speed and agility work," said Webb. "We are teaching these young people how to run correctly.  Once we do that we will put them through some agility footwork, and then we work with them on building their strength with pulling machines, which gives them a little resistance."

Webb added that his camps are not just for boys, they include girls too, and that these drills cover a variety of sports from baseball and football, to soccer, basketball volleyball, and track.

"These camps are for anything involving speed," he said. "I want to be able to work with all kids, boys and girls, and all sports, not just football.  I just try to focus on making them into better athletes."

Because there were so many young athletes who showed up for camp, Webb relied on the assistance of another NFL Athlete, his fellow Raven Johnny Eubanks, and other college and professional athletes such as Zavian Bingham and Andre Lloyd Jr.  Some of the other local volunteers included Yazoo Wildcats Coaches Willie Richardson, Joe Freeman, and Coach Ingram.

Webb said that because of the large turnout of youth at his camp last week, he will return again on Thursday, June 6, for another afternoon session from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the Yazoo City High School football field.

"I am happy to see this big turnout," he said. "I will definitely be back next week to do this again, and I hope we have even more to participate next time."

Some of the participants in the first day of the camp were able to receive Zone 21 practice shirts in neon, black, and white colors to use during the drills.  Parents of participants were also welcome to watch the drills from the bleachers at Yazoo City High School football field.

Webb said that this camp is free to all participants who come, and is open to boys and girls ages 7 - 17 who want to improve their speed and agility performance as a young athlete.

"Every one is welcome to come out and bring their kids," he said. "I will have something for them to do."