E.A. Sports Today

Giving back

Alexander returns to give back to his community, brings NFL friends with him to clinic

Tampa Bay linebacker Kwon Alexander addresses all the campers at his one-day clinic at McClellan Saturday. Below, former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston demonstrates proper drop-back technique for the campers. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Tampa Bay linebacker Kwon Alexander addresses all the campers at his one-day clinic at McClellan Saturday. Below, former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston demonstrates proper drop-back technique for the campers. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

When Kwon Alexander was young and playing in the Anniston PARD football leagues, he would have loved the opportunity to interact with the heroes he watched run across his TV screen on Sunday afternoons.

He never had that chance, but he’s making sure the kids today that harbor the same dreams he did do.

That’s the reason the second-year Tampa Bay Bucs linebacker was at McClellan Saturday giving a couple hours back in a mini-camp with current, former and future NFLers as counselors.

“I never got to see one, that’s the whole thing; that’s why I came back,” Alexander said as he made his way to the autograph area. “We don’t get too many people out of here to come back to show them. I’m glad everybody came out. It was a blessing.

“Everybody wishes they had somebody from their city that’s an NFL player come speak with them. Everybody had fun. I loved it. I wish I had this when I was younger; that’s why I brought it down here.”

The former Oxford and LSU star put about 350 youth players through about two hours of drills and fun.

Among the friends he brought to help were former Oxford teammate and Saints rookie free agent Trae Elston, former Heisman Trophy winner and Tampa Bay teammate Jameis Winston, Falcons linebacker Deion Jones, Eagles corner Jalen Mills and Robert Bailey, a former Super Bowl champion now Alexander’s agent.

“This is huge for the kids to interact with the very players they see on Sundays,” Anniston city councilman Seyram Selase said. “It’s cool to see them doing drills and chest bumping the NFL players.”

Elston was right in his element. He explained whenever he’d come home in the summer he’d always find time to be at a local school or gym playing basketball with the kids.

Both players report to their respective training camps in about a month.

Alexander returns to the Bucs after one year as a rookie starter — with a new head coach and defensive coordinator — determined to do improve the year he had in 2015.

“I made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “Now this year I know everything so it’s going to (seem) even slower and it’s going to be great. I’m going to do a lot of things this year people are going to see.”

For Elston the road is not as smooth. As an undrafted rookie free agent he’s got to make a quick impression, but then he’s used to beating the odds. He knows fastest way is to learn the playbook quickly and win the mental side of the game.

“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for me; not getting drafted, being a free agent, I’ve got something to prove,” he said. “Growing up as a kid I always had something to prove, being an undersized safety. Going to Ole Miss, they’re not going to win and now we’re winning. And now being a free agent trying to make the squad I feel like I’ve got something to prove and I think I’m doing that.”

Alexander said he hoped to return to Anniston every year for a clinic and Elston said he’d like to do the same in Oxford.

On the cover: Tampa Bay linebacker Kwon Alexander entertained about 350 youth league players Saturday at the first of what he hopes becomes an annual clinic at McClellan.

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