By Rory Sharrock
It's hard to tell with all this heat and haze, but football season is in the air.
This past weekend, Twelve Oaks Stadium was filled with the sights and sounds of gridiron madness for the Tashard Choice & NFL Friends Skills and Performance Camp.
The former Lovejoy and Georgia Tech star running back, who was picked by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of this year's draft, returned home to headline this clinic to provide solid instructions to the region's young players.
Also in the mix were past Southern Crescent heavyweights Morgan Burnett of North Clayton, who mans the secondary at Georgia Tech, former Jonesboro defensive back Jamal Lewis as well as Lovejoy alumnists Michael Heard, who attended Mississippi State, T.J. Brown of Eastern Kentucky and Spencer Nelson of Prairie View A&M.
"We had a good turn out. We had the chance to be hands on with them, get them outside, do some things and meet a lot of people," said Choice.
"It's been really fun. I'm happy they came out and show them good stuff in the community."
A host of players of all age groups took the field, competing in a variety of drills including cone shuffles, proper tackling techniques, route running and defensive coverage.
Each practice station featured former high school and current college players alongside members of the Lovejoy coaching staff.
"It's great for these kids to come out here see Tashard and the guys he brought with him," said Lovejoy football head coach Al Hughes.
"I wish when I was eight-years-old I had this opportunity. He's really demonstrated he's a community guy. I love him to death."
Choice also provided camp participants pizza and T-shirts, which were autographed by all the former as well as current college players.
The festivities were topped off by a classic game of two-hand touch football featuring shirts versus skins.
"These little jokers are working hard. It's hot outside and they're doing well. It was real exciting when we played our scrimmage game," said Choice.
Later this month, Choice heads back to Texas for the onset of training camp with the Cowboys.
Dallas opens its preseason Saturday, Aug. 9 at San Diego. Choice's first NFL game takes place Sept. 7 at Cleveland.