Tennessee Titans cornerback Coty Sensabaugh stretches with participants on Saturday during his inaugural football camp at Dobyns-Bennett High school in Kingsport. (Greg Peters photo)
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KINGSPORT — It’s been a few years since Coty Sensabaugh roamed the field at J. Fred Johnson Stadium. From there, he took his talents to Clemson University and then on to the NFL with the Tennessee Titans.
Now he wants to give back to the community part of what has been given to him.
One way he’s doing this is Coty Sensabaugh Football Camp.
On Saturday at Dobyns-Bennett’s storied football stadium, more than 500 youngsters took advantage of the free camp that emphasized drills and agility with a focus on character development. The camp opened with a morning session for ages 6 through 11 and closed out the afternoon by hosting eager kids ages 13 through 17.
Each camp attendee received a T-shirt, as well as lunch.
“This being my hometown and making it to the NFL, I wanted to give back something to the community,” Sensabaugh said. “I want these kids to know that they can dream and believe they can become anything they want, if they put their minds to it and work hard.”
Sensabaugh had no problem finding volunteers to assist with this endeavor. Among the camp volunteers Saturday was an all-star lineup of local high school coaches as well as several college and NFL players.
San Diego defensive back Marcus Gilchrist, former Clemson wide receiver Rashard Hall and D-B grads Ty Hayworth (Wake Forest) and Malik Foreman (Tennessee) were just a few of those who volunteered their time.
Also in the mix of players was Clemson’s star quarterback, Tajh Boyd — considered one of the top QBs in the nation. An All-America selection last season, Boyd has the Tigers ranked in the top 10 in some preseason polls. There are even rumblings of Heisman contention.
Not bad for someone who was told by former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin that he wouldn’t be a good fit for the Volunteers.
“This is the first camp I’ve done like this. Coty got in touch with me about the idea and I jumped at the opportunity to help give back to the community,” Boyd said. “This is something I can hopefully do someday.”
In addition to preparing for camp, Sensabaugh spent the past few weeks raising donations and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He does this work in memory of his brother Jamaar, who died of leukemia at the age of 16.
“Being hands on in the community is where I want to be. Not many get to be around professional athletes, so I get to have a platform where I can reach out,” Sensabaugh added.
The morning session saw Sensabaugh sprinting back and forth between drill stations, shouting encouragement and praise to the different youth.
Sensabaugh, who is entering his second season in the NFL, has been taking reps with the first-team defense during the early part of offseason camp. But the workouts, drills and intense preparation have not been the hardest thing to learn about being an NFL player, he said.
“You learn that it is truly a business and not a game any more,” Sensabaugh said. “You really understand this when you are around players one day and then the next they are gone.”