NFL Players Make Fresno Camp Elite

NFL Players Make Fresno Camp Elite

Former Fresno State Bulldog and current New York Jet Cameron Worrell held his second annual Passing Down Camp in Central California this past weekend. The camp has no peers when it comes to coaches. Six of the nine coaches were on 2007 NFL rosters. The other three signed or were signed by NFL teams at one time. All nine are former Fresno State football standouts.

Cameron Worrell was not a highly recruited prospect coming out of Chowchilla (Calif.), located about 40 miles north of Fresno, in 1998. He remembers the long path it took him to start at a DI university let alone to make it to the NFL. His way to help other high school kids and give back to his community is his Passing Down Camp.

With the help of eight former Bulldogs and agent and business partner Elbert Lee, Worrell held his second annual camp at Buchanan High School.

Cameron Worrell speaking on his cell phone
during Media Day at Dolphin Stadium in Miami
during Super Bowl XLI week back in 2007.
The current Jet holds a football camp in Fresno
every summer in July.
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Worrell starred as a RB and S for the Redskins earning all-section honors and league offensive MVP. Despite his prep achievements, Worrell had few options and decided to walk on at Fresno State. After not playing as a RFr. in 1999, he transferred to Fresno City College. He returned to FS in 2001, and left as a first team All-WAC free safety in 2002. He was undrafted in the 2003 NFL Draft but was signed by Chicago after a post-draft mini camp. He became the only undrafted free agent in 2003 to make the Bears 53-man roster.

Worrell understands the talent in Central California is often overlooked, and the Passing Down Camp is one way to help the players in the Valley to get better. However, Lee says the future is to lure the top talent up and down California to Fresno for an elite event like no other in the country.

"We usually hold it the second week of July," said Lee. "We pushed it up a week this year, but our biggest issue is trying not to conflict with passing tournaments and team camps. The NFL players only have about a two-week window, so this is only time we can hold it. We want to attract the big-name players, the four and five stars. We are not going anywhere. We want an event that the Southern and Northern California players have to come to Central California to compete."

About 45 players took part in this year's two-day camp. All the coaches at the camp are former Fresno State football standouts. New England Patriots James Sanders and Stephen Spach coached the safeties and tight ends, respectively. Carolina Panther Richard Marshall coached the cornerbacks. Oakland Raider Sam Williams coached the linebackers. Atlanta Falcon Adam Jennings coached the receivers. 2008 Green Bay Packer undrafted free agent Marcus Riley helped coached the linebackers. Former Minnesota Viking Wendell Mathis coached the running backs, and former Jacksonville Jaguar FA Paul Pinegar coached the quarterbacks.

Worrell oversaw the camp and coached the secondary. He says plans are in the works to incorporate linemen into the camp. The camp is conducted in shells (helmet and shoulder pads). From his experience in the NFL, Worrell believes the best instruction is taught with players in shells.

"I'm a skill guy, as are most of the guys I know in the league," Worrell said. "We had a few lineman last year workout with the tight ends, but we are thinking about expanding the camp to include all positions." "Last year we had few players that stood out, but there is more overall talent this year."

Worrell says Fresno (Calif.) McLane S Marte Sears was the top player they at the camp last year. This year Le Grand (Calif.) WR Lupe Diaz and rising Fresno (Calif.) Bullard sophomore CB Wesley Sardon were a few of the standouts.

"[Diaz] is a pretty special player," said Worrell. "He improved from yesterday to today. Wes Sardon is just a freshman. He can be one of the better players in the state when he is a senior."

Lee says the camp format could change next year from its current two-day commuter format. This year players received instruction from NFL players from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Possible changes next year may include testing, having a t-shirt and short session for one-on-ones and seven-on-seven, and allowing players to attend one day or part of day if they have passing tournaments or other conflicting team engagements.

Regardless of the format, there is no other camp like it in the West.

"People didn't believe Cam last year when he talked about bringing eight NFL players to Fresno [for a high school football camp]," said Lee.

After the camp, participants had the opportunity to thank and receive autographs from their NFL coaches. For more information on the Passing Down Camp, please visit their website.

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