The list of names reads like that of Who's Who in professional football.
At least three of the four attending this year's one-day camp at Sweetwater Park near Thomson on Friday, July 10 have local ties to the area. They include Danny Verdun Wheeler, Casper Brinkley, Jasper Brinkley and Fernando Velasco.
Verdun Wheeler and the Brinkley twins were star football players at Thomson High School before becoming college star players at Georgia and South Carolina, respectively. While Verdun Wheeler played briefly in the NFL with the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts, he is now waiting on another opportunity to play, professionally. Casper Brinkley, meanwhile, is on the practice team with the Carolina Panthers, while Jasper Brinkley recently was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.
Velasco, who hails from Wrens and was a star football player at Jefferson County, now plays with the Tennessee Titans.
Verdun Wheeler, who currently serves as a counselor at Bright Horizon in Atlanta, is hoping soon to receive a telephone call from his agent telling him that another team is seeking his services. Until then, he waits, patiently and continues to mentor teenagers from Atlanta to Augusta.
The week before the camp at Sweetwater Park, Verdun Wheeler will be participating in a similar football camp in Wisconsin. During that time, he will be helping University of Georgia Football Head Coach Mark Richt. The two still share a close friendship.
Other celebrity football players scheduled to attend the camp at Sweetwater Park include: D.J. Shockley, Atlanta Falcons; Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos; Tony Taylor, Tim Jenkins, and Marcus Howard. Some other pro players may come as well.
"We're hoping that our third camp is bigger and better," said Chris Tutt, who serves as director of his brother's camp. "We're hoping that the participation is up over the last two years."
Youngsters from the ages of 5 to 17 are invited to attend the camp, which teaches a variety of skills for those interested in playing football. The cost of the camp is $40. Participants will be fed hamburgers and hot dogs and receive cold beverages during the day, as well as a T-shirt.
In addition to the camp at Sweetwater Park, the same group of star players is expected to be on hand for a similar camp at Patriots Park in Columbia County the following day.
"These guys are stand-up guys," said Tutt, who also is a community football coach at Thomson Middle School. "They are going to be telling the camp participants things like how important it is to get it in the classroom. They are going to talk about how important getting an education is, first and then some things about playing ball. These guys are leaders and they are going to teach those qualities, too."
In addition to the star players, Scott Couter, owner of WPI in Atlanta, will again be helping area participants at the local camps.
Couter, who is best known for helping train a number of professional athletes, "loves working with the participants," said Tutt. "It's a pleasure to have him back with us to work another camp."
For more information about the upcoming Danny Verdun Wheeler Football Camp at either Sweetwater Park near Thomson or Patriots Park in Columbia County, please call Tutt at 706-564-4780 or email him at email@example.com.