Tyrell Johnson, strong safety for the Miami Dolphins, watches over a group of kids doing drills at his first Skill & Development Football Camp on Friday morning in Rison.
Kevin Williams, defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings, watches a camper run through a drill Friday.
RISON — Tyrell Johnson wanted to put on a free football clinic at his hometown for a few years.
On Friday, the Miami Dolphins safety and former Arkansas State standout saw his dream come to fruition as he put on the clinic for players from seventh through 12th grades at Rison Wildcat Stadium.
Johnson did not know the exact numbers for the camp, but he was very pleased with the turnout.
“It was great and the turnout was great. We had about 200 kids,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to show the kids that this is a small area, but you can still achieve anything.”
Johnson brought a number of current and former NFL players with him along with former Arkansas State players. Among them were Fordyce native and Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams, Washington Redskins safety Madieu Williams, Dolphins defensive back Marcus Brown, former Rison and ASU players Terrence Chavis and Shermar Bracey and former ASU player Deverette Wade.
“All of them did a great job,” Johnson said. “They showed a lot of love with helping out with the camp.”
The camp started at 10 a.m. and Johnson ended it about 1 p.m. as the temperature was at 99 degrees.
“It was a great time slot and as soon as I broke camp, I could feel the heat,” he said. “We did a great job with the water breaks and keeping the kids hydrated. We didn’t have any cramping problems and that’s a great job by the staff.”
Rison football coach Clay Totty also helped out with the camp and said it was huge to have Johnson and other players who came from the area help out with it.
“Tyrell has always talked about doing this and to come back and do a camp like this is a huge deal,” he said. “It’s huge because it gives the kids something to aspire to do and it’s a benefit for everyone in our area.
“Tyrell has never forgot where he came from and we are certainly proud of him. He is a great football player and a great individual.”
Chavis, who now lives in Victoria, Texas, said everything went well during the camp.
“It was a good thing for the kids around the community,” he said. “It will help them improve over the long run for football along Highway 79.”
Chavis added that it was a good opportunity to work with so many former college and current NFL players.
“They see guys from the area who are successful,” he said. “They can see it is possible to come from a small town and do well.”
Madieu Williams, a former teammate of Johnson during their time with the Vikings, made his first trip to Arkansas. He said he enjoyed his time and jumped at the chance to help Johnson with his camp.
“When he asked me, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of because it’s from his heart and he wanted to give back to his community,” Williams said. “We had a great turnout and more importantly, the children had a great time. This is a great place and I am glad I finally came to visit.”
This may not be Williams’ only visit to Rison, either. Johnson could bring him back for future camps since he plans to make this an annual thing.
“Definitely, and God willing if I have my health and playing or not playing, I want to come here and get NFL guys down here,” Johnson said. “It’s a great thing to do with the kids and I want to do something that matters and develops the kids.”