By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Trenton Irwin returned to Santa Clarita to host his first youth football camp.
Irwin and PO3 agency hosted the event Saturday at Cougar Stadium at College of the Canyons, his home field for four years when he played for Hart High School.
The Indian alumnus was supported by a group of NFL, NCAA, USFL and CFL talent to help guide his campers of fifth through eighth graders.
The coaching staff included numerous former teammates and coaches from Irwin’s alma maters Hart and Stanford.
“Tons of great coaches out here, some of my favorite people,” said Irwin.
The camp broke off into two groups of younger and older participants. Both groups engaged in dozens of drills at several stations for the four-hour camp.
Just about every crucial detail a youth football coach can hope to instill was touched on. The coaches covered: footwork, catching, proper tackling and technique, to name just a few.
After two hours of stations with some snack breaks, Irwin had his 147 campers engage in one-on-one drills. The player-favorite drill had three groups featuring quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs.
Irwin noted one of his favorite memories as a camper was catching a touchdown pass from former UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel.
The Bengal receiver also hoped to teach some off-the-field lessons to his camp.
“Life lessons they can take somewhere else,” said Irwin. “Being able to go handle adversity, compete and be able to learn from losses. You lose, you win but you got to be able to bounce back. Try to take the lessons from the losses rather than the loss diminishing your own character.”
Former Hart teammate and current Canadian Football League wide receiver Tim White was one of many camp coaches.
“The impact it can have on kids is substantial,” said White. “You go to one of these camps and you’re around players that have been there. Obviously, it’s an experience that you’ll take for the rest of your life. It’s a stepping stone to go in the right direction.”
White regarded Irwin as humble and a great teammate. He also shared his favorite moment of Irwin that showcased his demeanor. The two were playing a high school game against Canyon and before the ball was snapped, White, who plays with gloves, realized his shoes were untied. Gloveless Irwin took a knee and tied his teammate’s shoes before the snap.
Irwin’s former teammate currently plays on the CFL Hamilton Tiger-Cats and was formerly with the NFL’s Jets, Ravens and Saints.
Another Hart teammate who volunteered was Irwin’s longtime friend and quarterback, Brady White.
“It’s really cool to give back and help make these guys better,” said Brady White. “But also to teach them some new stuff and allow them to compete a little bit. But to have fun, that’s the biggest thing, is to enjoy these camps.”
Brady White currently plays for the Tampa Bay Bandits in the USFL.
At the end of camp, several campers were awarded certificates rewarding them as most improved, most supportive, best hands, most helpful, most attentive and standout star to name a few.
Irwin’s former quarterback at Stanford, Ryan Burns, also has played in his fair share of camps and remembers all the great things he accumulated.
“I remember just looking up to the people running [the camp] a ton and taking everything they said very seriously and trying to apply it to my young career at the time,” said Burns. “It means a lot to be here, when Trent called me up and asked me if I would join, it was a no-brainer. One because I love doing this stuff but the main reason honestly just cause Trent is an incredible human being.”
Former Hart head coach Mike Herrington praised his former star in Irwin and knew the kids were receiving good information to use on and off the field.
“He sets a good example for any athlete that comes through Hart High School or any other school,” said Herrington.
Irwin was a straight-A student, which helped earn him a scholarship to Stanford. As well as a scholar, Irwin was most recently part of one of the most dynamic receiver corps in the NFL on the Cincinnati Bengals, which competed in the Super Bowl last month. The NFL veteran has a lot of football left in him.
“I truly think elite teams originate from great talent and a great atmosphere that works together selflessly,” said Irwin. “That team last year had no doubt in what they could achieve for and with each other. And I’m excited to see how we can grow going into next year.”