LEXINGTON - His camp included current National Football League player Garry Williams, an offensive lineman with the Carolina Panthers, as well as numerous former Kentucky players who have played in the NFL such as Derek Abney, Dennis Johnson, Anthony White, Chris Demaree and more. Even Tim Couch, a former UK quarterback who was a former No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, stopped by to watch his nephew work out.
The C.H.A.M.P. Camp is part of Heart Power, Inc., an organization that supports youth and their families while encouraging positive influences on their lives. Former UK football player Anthony “Champ” Kelly, now the assistant director of personnel with the Denver Broncos, used his contacts to bring in a star-studded coaching staff to the camp at Bryan Station High School in Lexington last week.
Kelly’s own story is one of an unlikely rise to such a prominent NFL position. After graduating from UK, he played for the Lexington Horsemen from 2003-2006 and received the United Indoor Football Man of the Year Award in 2006 to recognize his leadership on the field and in the community.
He was Lexington Christian Academy’s offensive coordinator from 2002-2006 and was the general manager and wide receivers coach for the Lexington Horsemen in 2007.
Outside football, he was an organizational developer for Nurses Registry and Home Health in Lexington July 2005 to January 2007 and worked for IBM in Lexington from May 2002 through July 2005 as a software/quality engineer.
“Honestly, I¿am never amazed at what God does. I completely leave my life into his hands and where He guides me, I am willing to follow. I am smart enough to know that I don’t control it,” said Kelly as he watched youngsters participating in his camp.
Kelly shared these other thoughts on the camp and other things.
Question: How do you get so many former UK players, including some still in the NFL, to be involved with this camp?
Kelly: “I don’t know. I surrounded myself with a great group of men who wanted to come out here and invest in these kids. It wasn’t me. I was them wanting to invest in their community which speaks volumes about some of the UK alumni and all these guys in this circle.”
Question: But you must have something going on because you don’t see all these former players together even at a UK function?
Kelly: “I just like to believe that they know if they ever had to call on me for anything that they know I¿would be there in a split second. They know if I am a part of a function, it is going to be organized and is going to be true and trustworthy and is going to be goal oriented. We have a purpose for being out here.”
Question: Do you almost have to be at your camp to appreciate what it means to the youngsters as well as those helping you?
Kelly: “I have told multiple people that I really want to invite everybody to come and experience this for one time. A lot of these coaches, they didn’t know what to expect last year and when they showed up and saw the delight and pleasure on the kids’ faces then they were contacting me about working this year. We added some more UK guys, we added some more NFL guys. This is one of the best coaching staffs you could ever have assembled on a football field.
“We actually had a few guys travel up to Colorado for a camp last weekend. Dougie Allen came and Leonard Burress was going to come and they are going to Florida with me next weekend. Just guys that love the game and know how important the game is to teaching life lessons and they want to continue instilling that to kids in the community.”
Question: What makes former UK All-American receiver Derek Abney love this camp so much that he spent a week promoting it and came from South Carolina to work at the camp?
Kelly: “Derek Abney is an amazing man and everything I¿said about him when I¿introduced him to the kids I believe it and I hope they did. He is the kind of guy every parent should want to model their son after because he’s a guy of integrity, hard work and he has a tremendous intellect of the game and life far beyond his years.”
Question: Is anyone happier than former UK defensive lineman Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns, who has been away from football and not even back to a UK¿game, and here he is smiling and working with kids?
Kelly: “The football field and the joy of being around your teammates even in a coaching setting, you can’t rival that with anything in the world. To have guys from all different genres and all different socio-economic status is just amazing. They all come here with the common goal of making these kids better. It doesn’t matter where they are at right now in their current life, all they want to do is help these children better and help turn them into grown men.”
Question: Speaking of better, will former UK¿linebacker Danny Trevathan make the Broncos better now that you have him drafted and signed?
Kelly: “We are very excited to get Danny. I thought he was going to be able to make it out here but he had some other travel plans. We are excited about what he will bring. We just want him to stay consistent and do what he did at UK (when he led the team in tackles two straight years).”
Question: How has free agent signee Jacob Tamme looked at tight end during workouts and minicamp?
Kelly: “Jacob is great. Again, he is as great a person as he is football player. He is another guy that was sorry he could not be here but he had a family vacation. He is coming to do so more community work in Kentucky in July with his Swings for Soldiers golf outing. He asked me to try and be in that so I will see if I¿can be here for that, but we expect Tamme to be here next year for this camp.”
Question: Do you have a hard time being unbiased with former Cats Tamme, Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard on the Denver roster?
Kelly: “I am proud of those guys. Being a UK Wildcat, bleeding blue like I¿do, to see those guys achieve is warming for me. First of all, my job is to find the best athletes, best people in the country. To be able to get those guys from Kentucky means a lot to me and speaks volumes about our university.”
Question: How do you feel about how the UK program is doing or do you even have a chance to pay attention?
Kelly: “My focus is with the Denver Broncos is on the pro side so when I watch the Kentucky football team, I watch it as a fan and alumni. I try to remove my evaluations purposely and I try to let those guys know I am available to talk to them and if they have any questions I want to be there to help them. That’s about the extent of it.”