Deion Jones has an opportunity to give back, and he took advantage of it Saturday.
The New Orleans native, a former standout at Jesuit and LSU who's now with the Atlanta Falcons, hosted his first youth camp at Behrman Stadium. His NFL rookie season behind him, Jones took some time to share some knowledge with the young players and have some fun with the campers at the same time.
“I always want to give back to my community and not forget where I came from,” he said. “I played against guys at this park, and I just wanted to get my foot in the water and try to get better with (the camp) every year.”
About 100 campers attended the event, which featured a variety of drills and activities. Several other NFL players with Louisiana ties joined Jones, including Philadelphia Eagles guard Dillon Gordon, Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Jerald Hawkins and Carolina Panthers guard Trai Turner.
Turner and Jones have been close friends dating to their time at LSU, and the former St. Augustine Purple Knight was happy to lend the Jesuit product a hand.
“He’s always been one of the guys that I look to and I’m able to smile about because I saw his story up close and personal,” Turner said. “I’ve seen what he’s done to get to where he is, and I just wanted to come out and show some support.”
Turner and Jones had sensational seasons last year, with the former earning his second Pro Bowl selection while the latter was a finalist for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Jones racked up 108 tackles with 11 pass deflections, one forced fumble and three interceptions, one of which he returned 90 yards for a touchdown against the Saints.
But Saturday was all about giving back for Jones, and he and super agent Drew Rosenhaus closed the camp with a few words of wisdom for the campers.
“Here’s what’s most special about 'Debo,' and you guys take this to heart,” Rosenhaus began. “He’s a good student, he’s a good son to his mom and dad, he’s a good father, he’s great with his coaches and great with his teammates. All of the football stuff is dynamite, but what’s more important is school, family, he’s a religious man and he’s a good person most of all. All of you strive for that.”
“I just want y’all to know that anything is possible,” Jones said in closing. “Stay in school and, whatever you want to do in life, just stick to it and grind — that’s all it’s going to take. Y’all have more than enough support; just lean on one another and help everyone that’s coming from where we come from.”