More than 20 players from the Andrew Jackson High School football team joined head coach Kevin Sullivan at Wednesday's morning practice session with one goal in mind; to say thanks to Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jones-Drew purchased more than 100 sets of Reebok shoes, gloves and compression shirts for members of the varsity football team. Each player also received a special shirt that will be worn to school on game days. In addition, each member of the coaching staff received a Reebok jacket.
"The kids are really excited," said Kevin Sullivan, Andrew Jackson High School Head Football Coach. "We have never had a team cleat and this is my 11th year at the school. We're pretty excited because we would usually have to raise money for that kind of gear. It's a huge financial help."
The group watched practice and then gathered around Jones-Drew on the field to show their appreciation for the running back. The cleats were delivered last week, in red and black for the school's colors, and the team will wear them on Monday for their first practice.
"I remember being in your shoes at one time," Jones-Drew told the players. "I enjoy watching high school football because that was one of the best times of my life. I expect these cleats to lead a perfect 12-0 record this season."
Jones-Drew and Sullivan became friends the last couple of years at various football camps. Sullivan and his staff ran Jones-Drew's free football camp for youth in June on the practice fields at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
"I had the opportunity to spend some time with Coach Sullivan and his staff the last couple of years," Jones-Drew said. "I wanted to show my support for their program. Not every school has the opportunity to have matching shoes or wear Reebok gloves, so I know they will enjoy the gear."
Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio also addressed the group about his standout running back.
"Maurice is a champion on and off the field," Del Rio said.
Jones-Drew has been actively involved in the community since joining the Jaguars in 2006. He established the Maurice Jones-Drew Foundation earlier this year to help youth-focused organizations. He has hosted a football camp for youth the last three years in Jacksonville and has also held camps in his hometown of Antioch, Calif. He will be hosting a special backpack giveaway for more than 200 invited children on Friday morning following the team's practice.