Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick hosted his third annual football camp on Saturday, and you can call it a success. Kirkpatrick held the event in his hometown, Gadsden, Alabama and it was completely free. Here's the message the cornerback provided to those who came:
"I just want to constantly keep uplifting them and let them know that they can make it and that there is something other than Gadsden out here in world for them," he said. "I got energy, and y'all have to give me the same energy," Kirkpatrick told the kids. "We are going to come out here and work."
Kirkpatrick then told the group that when he said, "How you feel?" they should say "Good!" and when he said, "How you feeling?" they should respond with "Fired up!" The children responded loudly as Kirkpatrick asked, and the kids were fired up to get the camp going.
"Everybody is being pressured and everyone is facing some kind of adversity," Kirkpatrick said via the Gadsden Times. "If it's running too much or something else, how are you going to respond to it? Are you going to dig deep or rely on the guy next to you?"
The message almost seems experienced, if not prophetic. Kirkpatrick, who spent his rookie season recovering from injury, is locked into a grueling competition with Darqueze Dennard. Assuming Adam Jones starts opposite of Leon Hall, the third cornerback position boils down to Kirkpatrick and Dennard -- two first round draft selections from the 2012 and 2014 NFL drafts respectively.
A preseason knee injury forced Kirkpatrick to miss two months, eventually making his NFL debut on Nov. 4 2012. Eventually his rookie season was cut short due to a concussion and a recurrence of his knee injury. A hamstring injury sidelined him twice in 2013, but significant strides led to 30 tackles, three interceptions (with one pick-six), a quarterback sack and five passes defensed.
Kirkpatrick became a 24-hour celebrity against the Denver Broncos last year, securing the honor of AFC Defensive player of the Week for his two fourth quarter interceptions against Peyton Manning. Equally as impressive were his special teams contributions, downing four punts inside the opponent's six-yard line and generating nine special teams tackles -- third on the team.
In the meantime, Kirkpatrick is content with building his football camp through the 21 Kids foundation. "It means the world to me," he said. "It means a lot for this community to want me to come back and do the same thing with my camp."