NASHVILLE – As a youngster, Kevin Byard never had an opportunity to attend a football camp.
When the Titans safety embarked on his NFL career, Byard set a number of goals for himself on and off the field.
Among them: Byard wanted to host his own camp, for kids.
On Friday night, Byard’s dream became a reality as 200-plus youngsters turned out for the first annual Kevin Byard Football Camp and Ensworth School.
“That’s something I always envisioned when I first got into the NFL -- I wanted to throw a football camp,” Byard said. “To be able to throw it in Nashville in a community that loves me and I love them as well, it’s just a beautiful thing all around.”
Byard smiled when he looked down at the camp’s t-shirt, featuring an image of his end zone interception in a Monday Night Football game at Dallas last season.
He also smiled as he encouraged kids in drills, rooting them on.
Several of Byard’s teammates – defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, cornerback Logan Ryan, cornerback Malcolm Butler, cornerback Joshua Kalu, cornerback Tye Smith and cornerback Kenneth Durden – showed up to help run drills.
Byard’s personal trainer, Jason Spray, told campers about the young Kevin Byard he first met when he was the strength and conditioning coach at MTSU. Years later, Byard is heading into his 4th NFL season, with a Pro Bowl appearance, an All-Pro selection and 12 career NFL interceptions already among his accomplishments.
“His work ethic from when he was 18 years old to where he is today has never changed,” Spray said of Byard. “He is a true self-made guy and that’s why he is where he is.”
Byard talked to the kids about the importance of hard work, before watching them work.
“No matter what circumstances you come from -- if it’s good, poor, rich, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to,” Byard said. “Just to see these kids running around, the smiles on their faces, it does everything for me.”
Byard said he plans to hold the camp - which was free -- every year.
He promised even bigger and better things ahead.
“This is an unbelievable experience,” Byard said. “It means everything to me, from the bottom of my heart. It is an incredible response from the community, the kids. People came from Memphis, my family came from Philadelphia, for this. It’s awesome.”
TitansOnline.com looks back at safety Kevin Byard's 2018 season. (AP Photos)