Dekoda Watson knows that not everyone who plays football can make the NFL. But he thinks the game can make a difference for anyone who plays.
The former South Aiken star and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker is back in the area as he holds his first youth football camp from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at South Aiken High School.
For paying a $45 registration fee and bringing five nonperishable food items, which will be donated to the Golden Harvest Food Bank, players ages 8-18 will learn about the game and more.
“I’m not there to sell the dream that you can make it. It’s not like that,” Watson said. “The biggest thing I want to stress is education and exercising and manners. We got a whole issue in this nation as far as obesity is concerned.”
Watson, who will be helped the Green Back Packers’ Morgan Burnett and the New Orleans Saints’ Patrick Robinson, said he wanted to start this camp as a way to give back to the community. Starting next year, he hopes to give scholarships to a student at each Aiken County high school.
Watson hopes participants will learn individual and team techniques of the game and also skills off the field.
“I want to stress the importance of education. None of this is possible without education,” he said. “We’ll do football stuff, but we want to work these kids. It’s about working hard.”
After graduating from South Aiken, Watson played for Bobby Bowden at Florida State. He was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2010 in the seventh round.
In his two NFL seasons, Watson, 24, has made a combined 54 tackles, including seven in a game against the San Francisco 49ers last
This season, Watson and the Buccaneers have a new head coach in Greg Schiano, who was previously Rutgers’ head coach. Watson thinks this staff will instill discipline.
Watson said the youth camp won’t be about him. He wants it to be the start of something that will help the community more each year.
“I want to show my appreciation for everyone in Aiken County who supported me,” he said. “It’ll get bigger each year. This is just a stepping stone.”