Former Southern cornerback Danny Johnson remembers days like Saturday when he was a kid like any of the 500 who showed up for the Doug Williams Youth Football Camp at Doug Williams Stadium.
“Yeah, I remember it was hot,” Johnson said with a laugh.
Johnson, who just finished his first NFL season with the Washington Redskins was one of several coaches working as a counselor at the newly reformed camp, previously under the auspices of BREC but now operated by Williams through his foundation.
Players were broken up into position groups and rotated between drill stations under the watchful eyes of camp counselors while parents sat in the stands or found a shady spot where they could.
The lure of helping young kids is what drew Johnson, who prepped at East Feliciana High School, back when his coaching network called.
“It’s always fun to be out here with the kids,” Johnson said. “I have a back-to-school giveaway coming up myself. I love being around them. I remember coming to camps like this when I was kid. Trying to have fun and stay active, and I remember the (coaches) giving back to the community. I’m glad to be here helping out. These kids are dreaming the dream. It’s always fun to give back.”
The man running the show is former Grambling player and camp director Corey Brownfield, who along with Williams and Williams’ daughter, Ashley, pulled the camp together and had it running like clockwork. Youths in grades one through six ran drills in the morning session while the seventh- through 12th-graders participated in the afternoon session.
For Brownfield, the camp has a dual purpose.
“It’s an awesome experience to give back to my coach and my community,” said Brownfield, who played for Williams at Grambling. “I’m using my marketing degree and my background in sports to give back, and it’s an awesome experience. It’s been a great experience putting all of this together. I like seeing kids doing something positive instead of doing something negative. There are 500 kids doing the right thing with a positive impact. That’s what’s important to us.
“Coach Williams has had a big impact on my life. The things he always stressed the most was getting our education.”
The camp also provides encouragement for players to stay out of trouble with a scheduled talk from East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.
“Two facets that are important to me: all the yellow shirts, the guys who volunteered their time on a Saturday morning. And I look in the stands and see the parents brought their kids out her, which tells me they care,” Williams said. “It makes me think about my son DJ. He’s been here and I look at him now ... you hope one day these kids remember being here and understand there’s more to life than the streets, and more than football too.”
Johnson said he hopes he also sets an example for the kids to never give up on their ability. An undrafted free agent, Johnson made the team played 14 games for Washington in 2018 before going on injured reserve in December. He had 14 tackles.
Johnson said he’s looking forward to playing a bigger role in 2019 and is excited about the addition of another Louisiana native, Landon Collins, who signed as a free agent from the Giants. Collins and former LSU running back Derrius Guice, who also plays for Washington, were scheduled, but unable, to attend the camp.
“I’m going to compete and try to stay on the field as much as I can,” said Johnson, who played a role on special teams and contributed a 44-yard kickoff return. “I played some special teams, every role I possibly could to get more playing time.
“Getting Landon Collins is going to be good, another Louisiana boy. We click well when we are back there. It’s goo to have a guy like him, a physical guy. It’s looking real good this season.”