HAVELOCK - Despite the oven-like conditions, more than 100 kids stormed onto the Havelock Parks and Recreation Center's athletic fields Saturday to learn from a local gridiron legend.
Former Havelock High School and University of North Carolina football player, and current New York Jets' linebacker Bruce Carter, put on his annual camp to teach fundamentals.
USA Football sponsored the event and Carter was assisted by friends and the current Havelock coaching staff.
Elementary to high school-aged boys and girls ran through bag drills, cone drills, caught footballs, learned the proper tackling and stance techniques and more.
Like all of Craven County's successful athletes of years past, Carter takes a lot of pride in where he comes from and he loves spending time with the kids teaching the game he loves.
"I just love getting the kids out here," said Carter, who begins his second season with the Jets after four in Dallas and one at Tampa Bay. "They're the future of the sport, and it's important to get them around positive people and learn about them, what they like, favorite cartoons or whatever it is, I enjoy that."
With more of a focus from the NFL and youth football organizations on safety, techniques and focus has changed a bit since Carter's youth.
"Everybody has been doing so much research on the game, how to be smarter, how to be safer and that's a good thing," he said. "You want to be great at the game but you also have to look out for yourself, too."
The kids were treated to water, Gatorade, watermelon and pizza to keep them fueled and hydrated.
Some of the kids' jersey T-shirts fit just right and some resembled blankets than shirts due to varying sizes of children, who nonetheless wore them with smiles.
Carter oversaw the drills and interacted with the kids all the while, signed autographs and took camp-wide photos at the end, one with regular faces and one with silly faces.
He said he feels football is all about the work you put into the game.
"I think it's all hard work and sacrifice," he said.
"If you want it bad enough, you can definitely get it if you are willing to put in the work."
Going into his seventh year in the NFL, Carter still says he can't believe that he's considered a veteran.
"It's crazy, it seems like yesterday I was playing here at Havelock," he said. "Time has flown by and I think each year I have learned something different and you have to to be able to stay there and continue playing at that level."
Jordan Honeycutt can be reached at 252-635-5670 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.