The two, better known to Jaguars fans as "Thunder' & 'Lightning," have once again teamed up to put on the annual Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell football camp. This year's camp was held the week of June 14-18 at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville.
"Things went well for the camp," Jimmy Smith reported. "Keenan and I are definitely enthused about our camp. We'll go as long as we have campers."
The week-long camp featured incentives for the young football players, such as outstanding recruiting and scholarship opportunities, daily instruction, lectures and demonstrations by the pros.
Approximately 115 kids from around the country between the ages of seven and 18 attended this year. Campers had the choice to commute to camp every day or stay in the dorms on the Jacksonville University campus. "Probably about 70% of the kids stayed over night while the rest of the kids commute," said Smith.
The goal of Jimmy and Keenan's camp is to give each camper the finest football instruction available and a program they will never forget. The coaching staff, consisting of college coaches and Jaguars players, prepared each camper to become a more confident football player.
Individual and team instruction on both offense and defense was given by many Jaguars players, including Byron Leftwich, Rashean Mathis, Chris Hanson, Maurice Williams, Joe Zelenka, George Wrighster and Donovin Darius.
Some of the players that attended expressed how much they enjoyed the camp and how they are always ready to help Jimmy out in any way they can. Being the team leader that he is, Jimmy is very much respected in the locker room. The fact that he is the only active member from the Jaguars' inaugural team says a lot about him as a player and as a person.
"Jimmy is awesome," said punter Chris Hanson. "He's a leader, a quiet leader. He goes out and plays as hard as he can on Sundays… He's at 110% and is just a joy to be on the same team with him. Not many teams have a Jimmy Smith."
He also added, "Jimmy's camp was awesome. It's just great to see the kids out there learning the basic fundamentals of football. Joe and I had the role of helping teach kids how to punt and snap."
Offensive lineman Maurice Williams said, "Jimmy has tremendous amount of character. He's a guy that you definitely want on your team, a guy you want to have as your friend. You kind of see his heart, with him willing to help out in the community with the camp, and just help out the youth. He is just a tremendous guy."
"That was my first time going out to Jimmy's camp and it was a great event," added Williams about the camp. "I worked with the offensive linemen and there were some big kids out there … it's a good event and it's good for the community."
"He is in my mind destined for the Hall of Fame," said long snapper Joe Zelenka. "He's one of those players that I'm going to look back on my career and say 'I got to play with Jimmy Smith' – he's that good."
He also added, "Jimmy's camp was great. We went out there to coach a little bit and see what these kids can do. There was one young gentleman who is deaf and attends Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine. He had some serious talent.
"It was great being a part of that and to see the love Jimmy has for the kids at his camp."
Tight end George Wrighster said, "I think Jimmy brings a big presence. He is one of the most vocal leaders on our team, but Jimmy is the guy that will pull you to the side and talk to you and help you out. I think what Jimmy brings most to the team is his big-play ability. Sometimes players have moments of greatness, good things for a day, for a week, for a month, but this guy has been doing it for so long; he's been doing great things."
"I think it's a really good outreach for the community and for the players," said Wrighster about the camp. "When a guy like Jimmy asks a player to come out to his camp they may realize what they've been missing and want to get out into the community even more…everybody can benefit from the situation."
"The biggest thing that Jimmy brings to the team is a testimony," said strong safety Donovin Darius. "When you sit down and talk to him about the road traveled to get here…it's just a good story that these kids can continuously hear about.
"Jimmy does lead by example. Not every leader is vocal and sometimes your actions speak louder than your words… He is excelling on the field and doing everything he needs to do to teach the young guys. He's just someone to be admired."
He also added, "The camp was wonderful, the kids were great. The fact we were able to come out there on a hot day like that day…it was great. I love doing those types of things. I think his camp is very inspirational and very impactful in the lives of kids. It's good for the youth to see guys they look up to as role models, to take some time to come out and give them a little word of advice..."