Intensity, specific skill development and hands-on assistance of Buffalo Bills players were the plays of the day as the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse was home for over 200 local high school football players this past week.
The Bills and NFL’s annual High School Player Development (HSPD) camp ran from June 8-11 and continued their focus on character development and specific football skill training. The Bills players helped spread important positive messages.
"The main thing I told them about is academics because that's where it starts at," said Bills running back CJ Spiller. "If you don't take care of the grades, all of your time on the football field and all of that work is going to go to waste. I have a lot of guys in my hometown that had tremendous talent, but they didn't get it done in the classroom and they're still sitting there. You don't have to be 4.0 students but if you try your best, and give it everything you've got, you'll be fine."
Spiller backs up his talk. He could have left Clemson University a year early for the NFL, however he stayed in school and graduated with a degree in sociology.
The camp is led by Tony Truilizio, HSPD camp director and Riverside High School head football coach, along with other coaches from Williamsville South, South Park, Hutch Tech, Lockport and Iroquois high schools.
"The way the camp works out is there is a 45-minute offensive segment, then a 15-minute seven-on-seven segment," said Truilizio. "Then we reverse that so the guys that were working on offense go to defense, and vice versa. It's two hours of fundamental football, and the offensive and defensive line aren't neglected either. We also do inside zone run and one-on-one drills with them so they are getting a lot of movement as well."
The Buffalo Bills players supported the camp on June 9th and Bills defensive back Dominique Harris, a former HSPD camp attendee, had positive memories with HSPD when he went through the program as a high school student-athlete.
"It was a great experience for me to get to sit down with the NFL players and receive such good information," said Harris. "I just learned to work hard, and the coaches are very intense and teach you the skills you need to know to perform well. I felt like it was a big part of my development as a student athlete."
The Bills players that participated in the camp with Spiller and Harris were defensive lineman Arthur Moats, long snapper Garrison Sanborn, quarterback Levi Brown, defensive back Drayton Florence, offensive linemen Kyle Calloway, Cornell Green, and Sean Allen, tight ends Derek Schouman and Michael Mathews, linebackers Keith Ellison, Antonio Coleman, Ryan Manalac and Mike Wright, and safety Brett Johnson.
"I'm excited that the Bills players came in and volunteered their time," said Truilizio. "The players worked in their respective positions, cheered them on, and showed them a few pointers to bring more success to them on the field."
The participants in the camp paid extra attention to the pro's in their Bills jerseys.
"You learn from pro's here, you have them teaching you what they know," said Mike Scinta, junior linebacker for Frontier high school. "The students here know that the pro players know what they are talking about. They teach you teamwork and they teach you how to be a team. I'm definitely coming back next year if I have the opportunity."
Some of the Bills players emphasized that the off-the-field attitudes and successes are just as important as the football accomplishments.
Spiller said, "You just have to surround yourself with good people. If you do that, everything else will take care of itself."
"If you don't have the right skills off the field you aren't going to make it into the NFL," said Moats. "Lots of guys have the talent but you need to have more than just football skills. Off the field issues can deteriorate your career on the field. The fact that these kids are learning off the field skills about character, and being a better man is extremely important."
The HSPD program began in 2001 and is complimentary for student-athletes. The program has grown to over 9,000 participants in 17 cities across the country.