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Jags hit youth gridiron

A local youth football team, needing inspiration, was visited by a couple of Jaguars players recently. Wide receiver Ernest Wilford and running back Derrick Wimbush spoke to Southside Middle School's football team at one of their evening practices. They discussed with the youth the importance of education and always striving to do your best.

Southside Middle School's head football coach, Jim Castagna, said, "I get chills just looking at the Jaguars players talking to my players. Hopefully by having the Jaguars here today this will get them a little more fired up and they will work harder. This is a memorable moment for the kids today and they will always remember this."

The school has suffered in recent weeks due to many students being kicked off the team due to low grades and poor performance in the classroom. The Jaguars players both felt that by stopping by and sharing some of their stories that they could encourage the students to accomplish better results.

"I was in the same situation that most of these kids were in when I was coming up," said Wimbush. "I just hope that by coming out here we can provide a little inspiration."

Wimbush continued, "We want these kids to learn that you have to work hard to get what you want in life. Nothing in life is going to be handed to you."

The players spoke to the kids at the beginning of practice and gave the students an opportunity to ask questions. The team then began its practice routine and the Jaguars players stayed around to help coach various drills on the practice field. The running backs ran through tires, the linemen hit shields, and the receivers worked on their route-running. They did all of this with the encouragement of professional athletes closely monitoring them.

Wilford said, "If I can become a professional football player, then there's no reason why any of these kids can't do it. I'm just here trying to give them a little spark and extra motivation. These kids here today are our future."

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