0531-Brad Ford camp.jpg

Submitted / The Outlook Dadeville graduate and former Alabama football player Brad Ford (11) has hosted many camps around the state for youth players but next weekend, he'll host his first camp at his alma mater.

Brad Ford has spent a lot of his adult life giving back to youngsters trying to get into football. A 1992 graduate of Dadeville who then went on to play for the University of Alabama and the Detroit Lions, Ford has wanted to bring his football camps home to the Tigers for a few years now after witnessing a local child in need.

“Two years ago, I went to a peewee football game and saw a child with no cleats,” Ford said. “The other children were playing and picking at him. Then I saw him a couple months after that. I asked him if he was still playing football, and he told me he wasn’t playing anymore. He said he was just going to concentrate on basketball, but I knew the reason why.

“I said then if I could ever help a kid out who wants to play, I want to do that.”

Ford has been putting on youth football camps around the state and even in Georgia for years, but next weekend, he’ll be coming back to his alma mater. Dadeville will play host to the Brad Ford 11 Football Camp on June 8, and it’s open to any players ages 8 through 17.

Registration is $20, and the camps will last from 8:45 a.m. until noon. Pre-registration can be done before June 8 or kids can register from 8 to 8:45 a.m. at the Dadeville gym.

All proceeds will be donated to the Dadeville Dixie Youth League, and Ford said his goal is to have at least 60 to 100 kids.

Ford isn’t the only former professional football player who will be coaching players at next week’s camp.

Others who will be coaching are: Sherman Williams (Alabama, Dallas Cowboys); David Palmer (Alabama, Minnesota Vikings); Roosevelt Patterson (Alabama, CFL); Pierre Goode (Alabama); Brent Dearmon (Auburn); Lionel James (Auburn, San Diego Chargers); Mike Goggans (Auburn); Eltoro Freeman (Auburn); Rodney Crayton (Auburn); Kevin Moore (Alabama); Dameian Jeffries (Alabama, New Orleans Saints); Toderick Malone (Alabama, New Orleans Saints); as well as possibly a few others. Current Dadeville boys basketball coach Jesse Foster will also be coaching.

Ford said current Tide linebacker Anfernee Jennings should be in attendance but won’t be able to coach due to his limitations with the University of Alabama.

“A lot of the guys when I went to the University of Alabama, I met them and played with them,” Ford said. “I’ve also been to football camps with the guys from Auburn, and we just had a bond and became friends.”

Fundamentals will be a main focus during Ford’s camp.

“If we have enough kids, we’ll try to separate them by position and let the guys who played the game coach them with certain things they need to be coached on,” Ford said. “We don’t want to take anything away from their high school coaches or the little league coaches, but I know they can use some of the things we’ll teach them to do on their own when they’re not doing organized activities for their football teams.”

Speed, agility, footwork and hand placements will all be taught.

Although football is of course the main focus, Ford said he also wants to teach the kids about hard work and doing the right thing. At the end of the camp, three of the coaches will speak about their experiences with football, and Ford hopes he and the other former players can be role models both on and off the field.

“I try to be more than just a role model on the football field,” Ford said. “Football is just something you play. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change anything because everything I did, I learned from. But it was rough. If you wanna get to the next level, you have to put the work in. Just dream big, and I always tell the kids to trust God first, put your heart and mind into it and anything’s possible.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.