Philadelphia Eagles star cornerback Malcolm Jenkins is no stranger to giving back. This past week in his hometown of Piscataway, New Jersey was just another example.
Jenkins, a 29-year-old strong safety out of Ohio State, returns to Piscataway High School every offseason to run his Next Level Football Camp, a free program designed to help young athletes. He's been running the camp since 2012.
“This is something I never got growing up,” Jenkins told Philly.com. He only ever got to travel to one football camp, run by former NFL fullback Charles Way at the University of Pennsylvania. It would have been about an hour's drive for the young man.
“It’s nostalgic for me, coming back here year to year. It’s pretty special.”
Per Philly.com, campers step foot on the same field where Jenkins once won three state football championships with his teammates.
I can tell kids, this is literally the dirt that I worked on and built myself on to get to where I am now,” Jenkins said. “The dirt is still here. It’s still open for whoever wants to go that extra mile.
"Any athlete from age 7 to 17 is welcome on the field. Support from local businesses, the NFL Players Association and the Eagles allows Jenkins to return to his high school field for two days each year to give back to the community where he fell in love with the game," wrote Philly.com
Three years into his NFL career, Jenkins decided to start the camp. His camp quickly became a major calendar item in the area, headlined by Super Bowl champions and NFL stars such as Larry Fitzgerald, who volunteered their time to teach and talk with the athletes.
"The camp spanned two days, with the first designated for high school athletes and the second for younger players. Mornings were spent on combine tests such as the 40-yard dash and the short shuttles. After a lunch break, the athletes hear from Jenkins and the other athletes, who share their stories of making the NFL. The afternoon is then spent split into position skills training."
There’s only so much that he can teach in a day. But for Jenkins, the camp is less about skills and more about inspiration.
“They see where we are right now, but they don’t really get a chance to know how we got there,” Jenkins said. “This is our opportunity to show them that we’ve had to put in work to get there. It’s not like we just arrived. And when you do that, a lot of these kids start to see a way for themselves to have success.”