Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson hosted more than 400 kids at his sixth annual First and Ten Youth Camp, a free mini-camp powered by Academy Sports & Outdoors, on Saturday morning at the Methodist Training Center.
Co-hosted by Johnson and Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph, the camp gave participants the rare opportunity to work on basic fundamentals and techniques under the supervision of two Pro Bowlers. Retired NFL receiver Keenan McCardell, a Houston native, also helped provide instruction at the camp.
"Some of the drills they do out here are some of the same drills that we do," Johnson said. "I was in their position and I had a dream of making it to the NFL and wanting to play in the NFL, and I accomplished it. (I tell them) whatever dream they have, don't give up on it and don't let anything detour them from their dream."
Johnson, who is nominated for a Humanitarian Award by All Sports United, makes it a priority to have a positive impact on kids in Houston and his hometown of Miami.
"It's not every day that you get a chance to see one of your favorite players or a guy from the NFL standing next to you or you coming to his camp," Johnson said. "I never had nothing like this growing up. I never had an NFL guy or a professional player come speak at my school or anything like that. That was just something I always said that I wanted to do if I were able to make it."
The camp wasn't all work and no play. In between drills, the young players joked around with Johnson and asked him questions, many of them frank as expected from kids.
"It's always funny," he said. "First thing I think kids always ask is 'How much money do you make?' What kind of cars do you have? Do you live in a big house?' It's always funny to hear stuff like that but normally when they ask you questions like that you try to bat it down, tell them something else because this didn't come easy. It was definitely something you had to work to accomplish, and you just let them know that. That it's not easy; it's gonna take hard work to accomplish your goals."
After spending the day coaching and encouraging campers, Joseph spoke of how rewarding it is to make a positive dent in the Houston community.
"Those people give you so much support each and every Sunday, and a lot of the time you don't have a chance to give things back to those people," Joseph said. "It's just a way of us giving back to show some of the kids and those parents, who are the same people that come out to support us, the proper way to go out and have fundamentals and technique. It's just a great way for us to give back."