LaDainian Tomlinson hosts football camp for grade school student-athletes

Tomlinson is a former TCU running back who played 11 seasons in the NFL.

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An offensive line prepares to square off against a defensive line at LaDainian Tomlinson's Elite Football Performance Clinic over the weekend. (TCU 360/Russell Hodges) TCU legend LaDainian Tomlinson speaks with the media. Tomlinson returned to campus Friday to host a football performance camp over the weekend. (TCU 360/Jordan Ray) A wide receiver and a cornerback line up for the next play. (TCU 360/Russell Hodges) Two linemen square off for a drill. (TCU 360/Russell Hodges) A wide receiver and a cornerback prepare for a one-on-one matchup. (TCU 360/Russell Hodges) An offensive lineman tries to fight off a defensive lineman from sacking the quarterback. (TCU 360/Russell Hodges) A group of middle school student-athletes get together before breaking for water. (TCU 360/Russell Hodges) Players huddle up around one of the coaches in preparation for an 11-on-11 scrimmage. (TCU360/Russell Hodges) A coach attempts to help a player relieve a hamstring injury. (TCU 360/Russell Hodges) Offense and defense line up for a play in the 11-on-11 scrimmage. (TCU 360/Russell Hodges) A quarterback scans the field for his wide receiver. (TCU 360/Russell Hodges)

Former NFL running back and TCU alumnus LaDainian Tomlinson hosted a football camp at TCU over the weekend for middle school and high school student-athletes.

The Elite Football Performance Clinic is a camp designed to increase scholarship opportunity awareness while instilling core values to help players become better and more complete student-athletes, according to the academy's website.

Created by the LaDainian Tomlinson Preparatory Academy, Tomlinson said one of the camp's main goals is to help student-athletes get noticed.

"A lot of our kids aren't [Division I] athletes," Tomlinson said. "We want to help them get [Division I-AA], Division II scholarships. We want to help them get to college and realize their dreams."

Tomlinson also said his experience as a student-athlete inspired him to create the camp.

"We had a bunch of talent on my high school football team," Tomlinson said. "And not many guys got a chance to go play [at the college level]."

College football programs did not highly covet Tomlinson coming out of high school, and the 5-foot-10 speedster accepted a scholarship to play with the first school to offer him one: TCU.

"I just always felt like a lot of kids slip through the cracks because they just don't know how to reach out to colleges or don't know how to get noticed and recognized," Tomlinson said. "I wanted to help student-athletes and parents with that process."

Tomlinson finished his career as one of the most-highly regarded running backs in the history of both college and professional football. He won the 2006 NFL MVP trophy following a record-breaking season in which he scored a league-record 31 touchdowns.

The College Football Hall of Fame invited the former Heisman finalist to join its ranks in late May.

Tomlinson's camp includes skill-specific and detail-oriented position drills, specific recruiting information for parents and student-athletes, core course information and team-oriented drills for competition, according to the website.

Shannon Brazzell, who has worked with the academy for four years, said his favorite part about working the camp is the camaraderie.

"Seeing the glow in the kids' eyes, seeing the passion in their eyes," Brazzell said. "It's always fun to see the transition from the start of camp to the end of camp and seeing how the student-athletes have gotten better."

Brazzell also said working with Tomlinson has been a great experience.

"He's been a brother to me," Brazzell said. "We met when we first got to college in 1997 and we were teammates and we've been best friends ever since...it's been a blessing to be his friend, to work with him and to be able to change people's lives."

Brazzell said what differentiates Tomlinson's camp from others is its involvement with the student-athletes.

"A lot of camps are just camps," Brazzell said. "You go, you play football, you leave. Here, it's so much more than that. It's about brotherhood, enthusiasm, and getting to know these kids as individuals."

Jordan Ray contributed to this story.

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