A day of learning at Vicksburg High|[6/8/06]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2006

It was a day of learning football and setting a right path in the classroom Wednesday at the Melvin Spears Grambling State Football Camp.

Spears and his staff came to Vicksburg High’s Memorial Stadium to teach, evaluate and motivate the 60 or so campers that participated, which included high school players from Vicksburg, Brookhaven, Northwest Rankin, Port Gibson and Hinds AHS.

&#8220Put yourself in position to do your work and that means going to class,” current Grambling State player and former VHS star Michael Rainey said to the campers. &#8220Don’t give your teachers a hard time. Listen. I had a cousin here at Vicksburg who didn’t and now he’s going to miss out.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Spears, who led the G-Men to an 11-1 season and a Southwestern Athletic Conference championship, echoed those sentiments.

&#8220The one thing in common you see from my coaches is that all these guys went to college and graduated,” Spears said. &#8220Football is just an extension of the educational process.”

One of Spears’ newest assistant coaches is defensive line coach Brett Beard, a Vanderbilt graduate.

&#8220Coach Beard taught us a bunch of techniques,” rising VHS junior defensive end Jacob Morgan said. &#8220He showed us the various formations that Grambling runs and he also helped me with my stance.”

Beard said he had no qualms about joining Spears’ staff after his shot at the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts was cut short due to an injury.

&#8220I’m proud to be the defensive line coach at Grambling State. Just look at the history and the tradition the school has. It’s top notch,” said Beard, who played at Vanderbilt from 1999-2002 before transferring and becoming a Division I-AA All-American at Southeastern Louisiana under former coach Hal Mumme.

After an early morning run of conditioning drills, the campers were broken into position groups. Offensive linemen got to work with 26-year coaching veteran Carl Roberts while quarterbacks and receivers got a taste of an offense put together by former Minnesota Viking great Sammie White.

&#8220Ya’ll don’t know, but one of the best players ever to play in the NFL is on this field and that’s Sammie White, a member of the Minnesota Vikings’ All-Time team and a former NFL Rookie of the Year,” Spears said of his current offensive coordinator.

White is the one responsible for developing one of the country’s most wide-open offenses. Grambling State has led the I-AA division in passing offense for two of the last three years under former quarterback Bruce Eugene, now with the New Orleans Saints.

Rising sophomore quarterback Les Lemons of the Gators was one of the lucky ones along with the starting quarterback at Brookhaven High. Lemons had one of the camp’s best throws, a 50-yard TD pass to Hinds AHS receiver Derrick Steele.

&#8220Coach White was great about teaching me how to read defenses,” Lemons said. &#8220He also helped me with my drops.”

&#8220That’s why I came, to learn from college coaches and see where my game is at,” said Steele, who helped the WarDawgs to a 10-1 record last year.

Port Gibson coach Shaun Archer used the day to see the variety of techniques used by Spears’ staff.

&#8220I can take a lot of this back to my kids at Port Gibson,” said Archer, who coached Mississippi High School All-star lineman Kelvin Jackson.