Curious what pro athletes do on their final days before the grind of football training camp begins? They host football training camps themselves.
Or at least Brian Orakpo does.
For the last 3-days, Orkapo has headlined his own 3-day overnight football camp at George Mason University with Sports International Football Camps, the same group that put together Roy Helu’s camp earlier this month and will be hosting Brandon Banks camp this upcoming weekend.
Orakpo addressed the group as a whole at the end of the camps award ceremony.
The 3-days of camp, had very strong similarities to what Orakpo will be experiencing next week, he told the campers: “all the drills you’ve been doing out here all week, are the exact same drills I’m going to be doing next week. You got a taste of what I’m about to experience in just a couple days.”
Orakpo continued with his message to the campers about the importance of building chemistry with your teammates, paying attention to details and continuing to work hard in school. He also had a strong message to both the parents and kids; as they begin looking towards college, if a scholarship doesn’t show up in their mailbox to not get discouraged but understand there are many opportunities still available. He shared a few personal stories of walk-on teammates he had at Texas who are now playing in the NFL.
Before stepping from behind the podium, Orakpo took the risk of asking the audience, a mixture of parents and kids (ages 8-14) if they had any questions for him. This was fun!
“Why is your voice so deep Brian?” asked one kid. Orakpo laughed. ”Thats just how its always been, ever since I was a little kid they use to call me the little Barry White.,” answered Orakpo. Another camper wanted to know “how much money do you make a year” to which Orakpo replied, “minimum wage, I just love the game,” with a million dollar smile on his face.
Before his final day at camp concluded, I got to spend a few minutes with Orakpo to get his thoughts on hosting his own camp, the highlight of the week as well as some of his feelings about training camp which is set to kick off mid next week.
BHR: Is it a surreal feeling having your own camp with your name on it?
Orakpo: Its crazy man, it really is… I’m so honored and blessed to be where I’m at now. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and now I can give back my football expertise to these kids that are trying so hard to get better themselves. At the end of the day, its just a huge honor and we’re excited to do these types of things.
BHR: I heard you mention that you went to camps growing up, did you get to ever experience what these kids got to experience this week and meet a pro player or attend ones camp?
Orakpo: The one that I remember was attending a big Nike camp during high school. There were a bunch of different college and pro athletes out there.
BHR: Can you remember who?
Orakpo: I knew you were going to ask that, I can’t remember to be honest, its a little blurry at the moment.
BHR: All good… What are some of your personal goals you set coming into these type of situations, working with the kids for the week?
Orakpo: The most important thing I try to do is have fun. You never want to take the fun out of the game. You may see a lot on TV and with the NFL guys, hearing a lot about the business side of things, but you always have to have fun playing the game. I want the kids to understand that
(Break in the interview – Orakpo taking pictures with the campers)
BHR: How excited are you about getting back to your own camp next week?
Orakpo: I’m very excited to get going. Everyone’s anxious for football to get back, including me. We have high expectations as a team and it feels good to start seeing the guys making their way back in town and all of us getting back to work.
BHR: You have any plans already lined up to get with some of the guys to do some work before camp next week.
Orakpo: To be honest, I’ve been getting with the guys for the last few weeks now. First thing in the morning everyday we’ll get together, do some lifting, footwork drills, etc… just getting back to that same level that we need to be at come next week.
BHR: When you say the guys, are you referring to the team, defensive guys, or your position guys like Kerrigan?
Orakpo: Anybody that was there. Primarily, it was linebackers and the running backs, working on things like pass drops… that type of thing.
BHR: So what type of conversations do you and Kerrigan have with one another approaching the season?
Orakpo: You know we all have our own individual goals. Kerrigan is more of a quiet guy, you’re not going to get much out of him. He’s here working out now, since he’s done with school at Purdue, so we’re excited to get together getting ready for our second year. We have a lot of expectations for each other.
BHR: Is that something you and Kerrigan will turn into a competition or a contest, place bets between each other; who can get the first sack, forced fumble, etc..?
Orakpo: Haha… No, we don’t have any bets or anything like that between us. I know inside though we have a competitive nature with each other so if Ryan gets a sack, I’m eager to get another and if I get a sack, I know he wants to get one. We don’t really talk about it to much because we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but I know there’s a competition inside of each of us.
BHR: Last question for you about the this weeks camp: what are your thoughts as you wrap up camp and did you have a highlight or two?
Orakpo: It’s been great, spending time with the kids. Teaching them the little things about football and giving advice has been a lot of fun. I just really want these kids to have fun, cause football needs to be fun.
As for the highlight, I’d have to say it was with the LB’s. They have this type of camaraderie with each other, when they all do good, or make a play, they all get together and jump up in the air and high-five one another. I thought that was pretty cool. You got to keep in mind, these kids at this camp don’t really know each other, so they have to build this type of chemistry in just one week I thought that was phenomenal.