When Dre Kirkpatrick steps back onto the turf at Titan Stadium on Saturday, he won’t be alone.
Along with 300 campers, Kirkpatrick will bring two of the top wide receivers in the NFL with him in Cincinnati teammate A.J. Green and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown.
The former Gadsden City and Alabama standout wanted to make his fifth annual camp bigger than ever, and he is thankful for his two friends for making it happen.
“Those guys could be doing a million things right now, but they are sacrificing by taking time out of their busy schedules to make my day special,” Kirkpatrick said.
On top of the two high-profiled wideouts coming, Kirkpatrick was able to bring his camp back home after holding it in Cincinnati last year.
“I know those kids are going to be fired up,” Kirkpatrick said. “I got a lot of feedback from last year of not having the camp (in Gadsden). Not negative, just people wondering was I ever going to do it again or if I was going to do the camp next year.”
Last summer was a big one for Kirkpatrick as he was heading into the final year of his contract with the Bengals. After picking off three passes and breaking up 10 last season, he re-signed with Cincinnati for close to $52.5 million over five years.
There were multiple reports before Kirkpatrick resigned with Cincinnati that AFC north rival Pittsburgh was in the mix to sign the 27-year-old. After hearing from fans about that, Kirkpatrick also heard from them after he announced Brown, who Kirkpatrick regularly covers when the two teams play, was coming to his camp.
“I got a lot of talk on my Instagram about it, kids joking with me,” said Kirkpatrick, laughing. “Some people were amazed to see that we are actually cool and we actually get along. So I definitely owe him one.”
One fan jokingly told Kirkpatrick on Instagram “most people are not going to go because Antonio Brown is going to be there,” but that ended up not being the case.
The 300 spots reserved for the camp filled up quickly and there will not be on-site registration. Check-ins for those who signed up will be at 7:30 a.m.
Kirkpatrick is ready to get the campers running through drills. He just wants to see the kids active.
“I speak health to the youth nowadays because everything is digital and technology,” Kirkpatrick said. “You don’t really see a lot of kids out playing around anymore. So my thing is to get the kids out and interact with their families.”
Kirkpatrick said rain will not stop the camp, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday. There will be a plan in place in case of rain.
“We will go inside, figure it out and play it by ear,” Kirkpatrick said. “We don’t want to send those kids home sad.”
Rain or shine, the goal will remain the same.
“Either way it goes, the plan is to make these kids happy,” Kirkpatrick said. “Get energy out of these kids and get them around great, positive people.”
By: Teddy Couch, Times Staff Writer
Posted: June 22, 2017, 9:51 pm
Updated: June 22, 2017, 9:51 pm