By Doug Gorman
D.J. Shockley is the definition of a local football hero.
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback has his roots firmly entrenched in the Southern Crescent.
Shockley began his rise to football stardom at North Clayton High School under the watchful eye of his father Don, who was the long-time head coach at the school.
During his senior year at North Clayton, Shockley passed for 1,861 yards and 11 TDs. He also rushed for 864 yards and eight TDs.
He also garnered national headlines as he was considered one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation during his senior year.
The recruiting battle for Shockley was well underway when he chose to sign with the University of Georgia and spent time backing up David Greene for three years before finally getting his shot at running the team as a senior.
But Shockley never yielded in his desire to stay at Georgia even though he could have easily transferred.
He signed on to be a Bulldog, and he intended to graduate a Bulldog.
The North Clayton graduate made the most of his fifth year in Athens, leading the Bulldogs to the SEC title with a 34-14 victory against LSU in a game where he threw for two TDS, ran for one and was named the MVP of the contest.
But Shockley has never forgotten where he came from, and that was clear Saturday afternoon as over 320 young football players converged on Tara Stadium for the first annual D.J. Shockley Football Camp.
"It's important to give back to the community," he said. "This is where I grew up, and I want to pass it on to the next generation."
He is excited about the future of the D.J. Shockley football camp.
"I think the turnout was great," Shockley said. "I think it is one of those things we are going to do every year. "I enjoyed it, and we had a lot of support for it. We definitely want to make it an annual thing."
A session for younger football players took place in the morning, while high school aged athletes took the field in the afternoon.
"We took them through the fundamentals of football, to stretching, to different techniques, to catching balls, we had it all going."
Campers were treated to a serious dose of football, as stations were set up for players based on the positions they play for their teams.
Shockley got a little help from his friends during Saturday's camp.
Former Bulldog Cap Burnett and his brother Morgan, now a standout at Georgia Tech, were on hand to help. His father Don, and former Georgia teammates Thomas Brown and Tony Gilbert, and David Irons were among those who lent their time and football knowledge to the camp.
In addition to helping the campers get better at football, Shockley stressed life skills too.
That included the importance of doing well in school.
"We tried to let these kids know there is life after football," Shockley said. "We told them to strive to be great at whatever it is they are doing. I think I can sum it up in one word and that is discipline. Be disciplined in football or in the classroom."
Shockley is about to head to his fourth football camp with the Falcons as he tries to secure one of the three quarterback spots on the roster.
He is excited about the direction the Falcons are taking under second year head coach Mike Smith.
"We are ready to get going," he said.
"Last year was just the start of some good things to come, and we want to build on last year."