Summer has arrived and so has football camp. Mack Brown's Longhorn Football Camps, which are open to children in grades four through 12, are underway. This summer, the six sessions will combine to house over 3,000 kids from all over the country.
During the three-day sessions, campers are able to workout at UT's multiple athletic facilities, receive hands-on coaching from the entire Texas coaching staff, as well as visit coaches from top high schools and colleges across the country. They also get to meet other kids their age who share the same passion for football.
Coach Mack Brown visits with all of the campers, is present at every practice and takes a personalized photo with each of the participants - not an easy feat when each session includes up to 500 kids. The campers receive their photo with Brown at the end of the camp, in addition to an autographed photo of Brown holding the National Championship trophy.
Brown enjoys being a part of the camp because of the experience it provides for campers of all ages.
"The older guys are able to come perfect their football and leadership skills," Brown said. "They also get to compare themselves to other top players and gain the attention of coaches from across the state and country."
He also stresses the depth of the learning experience for the younger campers who are in fourth, fifth and sixth grade.
"They spend the night away from home, meet and interact with other kids their age, learn how to work in a team concept and improve on the fundamentals of football like catching, throwing and stance," Brown added. "It really is an enjoyable experience for everyone involved."
It has been a particularly meaningful experience for Teresa Stamper's two sons because their father, who has been following UT Football since the 1970s, has cancer and could not travel to Austin with them.
"They have been looking forward to coming to camp for a while," she said. "My older son loved it and the 9-year-old just arrived, but is already having a great time. He's in awe."
The Texas staff has been putting on football camps for the past 10 years and as Associate Athletics Director for Football Operations Cleve Bryant explained, it just continues to get bigger and better every year.
"Camp continues to get larger each year because the number of repeat campers keeps increasing," said Bryant. "I've had a lot of kids that started in the fourth grade and now they're in 11th grade and they're still coming."
Sherrie and Dennis Clay returned this summer with their 10-year-old son.
"He really enjoyed it last year and couldn't wait to come back this summer," said Sherrie Clay. "We're all really big UT fans, and if he keeps his straight A's up, he'll definitely be back next year."
Longhorn Football Camps give kids a taste of what it is like to be part of one of the most accomplished programs in college football. They get to take part in some of the traditions that have been a part of Longhorns football since the beginning.
Former Longhorns TE Steve Hall expressed how neat it is to watch his 10-year-old take part in the same traditions he did 25 years ago.
"He's been looking forward to coming to camp for a while," Hall stated. "This is his first time, but he's been going to games with me for years, so he feels really comfortable here."
While everyone does not have the opportunity to play collegiate or professional football like past camp participants Cory Redding and Roy Williams, who currently play for the Detroit Lions, they do have the opportunity to go to camp and have an enjoyable experience, all while becoming a better football player.