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College football: SU oversees youth practice at Fort Drum (VIDEO)


FORT DRUM — Military personnel have watched the Syracuse University football players run drills and go through practice all week.

But on Thursday, they got to watch their own kids get put through the same paces.

The Orange players and coaches held an instructional clinic for players from the Fort Drum Youth Services football teams before an intrasquad scrimmage held exclusively for military families.

The clinic was a new feature in SU’s second year of its Fort Drum preseason training camp.

“It was great, just to see the smiles on those kids’ faces and our kids’ faces,” SU first-year head coach Scott Shafer said.

“They’re hooting and hollering with those kids running around and the moms running around chasing their babies around the grass, it was cool. It was cool as hell and a lot of fun and it was great for both sides of the fence to get out there and have some fun with the kids from Fort Drum.”

There were about 100 children in attendance with ages ranging from 5 to about 10 or 11. The Orange set up eight stations, broken down by position.

There was a station for quarterback skills, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs.

SU players served as the instructors while coaches wandered around the various stations.

At the end of each station, the SU players invited the youths into the huddle and jumped up and down, yelling things like “This is our house,” or “It’s game time,” as if they were getting pumped up to take the field for a bowl game.

At the defensive linemen station, SU players challenged the children to show off their best dance move after plowing through the tackle dummies.

The players — as Shafer pointed out — seemed to have as much fun with the clinic as the kids from Fort Drum.

“I think more than anything it’s a break in the normal day action and it’s an opportunity to not be selfish and feel sorry for yourself because you’re banged up in the middle of two-a-days,” Shafer said. “I think for our kids it’s that, more than anything else, step outside yourself and look a little guy in the eyes and say, ‘You know, his dad’s probably about to go off to Afghanistan, let’s make this kid have some fun right now, get a couple pictures and make sure we give something back to Fort Drum.’”

The FDYS teams have been practicing on nearby fields all week during the same times SU has been on the practice field.

“They’ve been around all week, looking over the fence and players throwing them wrist bands and stuff,” Shafer said.

At his first press conference of the training camp on Tuesday, Shafer said seeing the youths practice around his team was one of the first things that “juiced him up,” about the week.

“All these Pop Warner Fort Drum kids running around playing football — the best game ever created — on a military base. Busting their rumps as a bunch of little guys and it’s got to be exciting for them as it is for us. To have these two practices going simultaneously with the Syracuse kids and then looking over your shoulder and seeing these rug rats running around is just great,” Shafer said.

n Shafer said that he still has no timetable in mind for when he plans to name a starter at the quarterback position, simply saying that he will name a starter “at quarterback and the other 10 positions on offense,” before the team’s season opener on Aug. 31 against Penn State at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The competition is between Drew Allen, a senior transfer from the University of Oklahoma, and sophomore Terrel Hunt.

Video of the children’s clinic can be found at

Syracuse Football Kids Clinic at Fort Drum
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