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Coty Sensabaugh inspiring new generation of athletes

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 2, 2018 at 7:46 PM

KINGSPORT — Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Coty Sensabaugh was back home Saturday inspiring a new generation of athletes to live out their dreams.

During his sixth annual football camp at Dobyns-Bennett's J. Fred Johnson Stadium, Sensabaugh continued to promote a message of hard work and not giving up on those dreams — lessons he and other local professional football players have preached to younger athletes.

"We have just tried to teach these kids to dream and that anything is possible," said Sensabaugh, a six-year NFL veteran. "They just have to learn to work hard."

It's a message that resonates with the young crowd.

Saturday’s afternoon camp session was devoted to kids in the 13- to 17-year-old range. One of the lucky campers, Corbin Kilgore, who plays high school football for Twin Springs, won a pair of Sensabaugh's cleats at the end of the day. A huge fan of the NFL player, Kilgore has attended the Sensabaugh camp all six years.

"I watched him all season with the Steelers," Kilgore said. "When their guy got hurt, Coty came in and stepped up. It meant a lot to me because I got injured last season in football but had to also come back and step up.

“Anything from Coty is cool and this camp is amazing. You get to come out here and learn from one of the best in the game."

Sensabaugh, a fourth-round pick out of Clemson in the 2012 NFL draft, played his first four seasons with the Tennessee Titans, who traded him to the Los Angeles Rams before the 2016 season. He and his wife were heavily involved in the community in Nashville and hated to leave Music City, but the player said he understands the business of football.

Sensabaugh appeared in just three games with the Rams before being released and picked up by the New York Giants. Last season, he proved his worth by playing in 14 games and helping shore up the Steelers' backfield.

"I loved being in Nashville, but you know, every part of your life has a chapter," he said. "That chapter was awesome, but I'm happy to be where I'm at now."

Where he was Saturday was on the field where over a decade ago he was an all-state performer for the Indians. He played for legendary coach Graham Clark, who recently retired as Dobyns-Bennett's coach.

"I'm all about winning and that's what I enjoyed about Coach Clark," Sensabaugh said. "He taught us to compete and he was always funny. The whole experience of being around him was great."

Sensabaugh later made his mark at Clemson, landing in one of the classes that laid the foundation for the Tigers' current run of success. Now approaching his seventh professional season, Sensabaugh has played in 86 career NFL games and compiled 161 tackles.

He returned an interception of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston for a touchdown while with the Titans, and last season with the Steelers had a career-high seven tackles in one game. Heading into the upcoming season, his pro team gave him the same advice he got from Coach Clark at Dobyns-Bennett, and he passed that advice along to his group of campers on Saturday.

"The Steelers have told me to go out and compete every day," Sensabaugh said. "If you do that, things take care of themselves."

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