On Saturday 29th April around 30 15-19year olds headed to Filton WISE campus for a defensive line camp led by NCAA D1 scholarship athlete and newly signed NFL player (more to come on that soon!), Alex Jenkins.
Alex, who is 24 and from Bath, started his Britball life with the Bristol Aztecs and the Bristol Academy Pride. 18 years old, Alex wasn’t aware of the size of the sport in the US or the UK. After watching the Longest Yard and deciding to search for a way to play the sport, Alex came across the Bristol Aztecs. He trained at the Filton Academy and within a matter of days of first stepping out in pads, his athleticism shone through and Alex was selected for the GB Lions Junior team.
After playing for his home country he then went up to Scotland for a trial at the Football University (FBU) Camp. This got him noticed by coaches in the States and, having considered offers from a number of Division One Colleges, he went on to accept a scholarship at the University of Incarnate Word in 2013.
Having spent four years playing College ball, standing out as a naturally talented and gifted athlete, he has been recently filming for the second series of NFL Undiscovered and with the NFL Film Crew in tow he set up this D Line camp to give back to British Junior Football which has helped him in his journey from 18-year-old rookie to 24 year-old NFL player.
The camp consisted of Alex running through drills with the players; each drill would cover the different aspects of playing defensive line. Alex would talk it through step by step and walk through to show the players exactly how to execute it.
The first few drills were a mixture of footwork drills using the step overs -these drills teaching the players the correct footwork and movement patterns , of great benefit to them in a game situation. They then were split into smaller groups, one of the groups was working with The Pride Head Coach, Ben Herod, and another with Alex.
The group with Coach Herod started off with a drill where players learnt to work their hip fluidity. Players were shown to turn using their hips as they avoid opponents. They then did some bag work where the players worked defensive line fundamentals, which included learning stance, get off and hand placement, as well as working on block destruction.
The team with Alex were told how to get into a correct three point stance and were told to explode out of their stance. They also used the sled to work on hand placement and pad level to gain maximum leverage against an opponent.
After that the players joined up to work on hand blocking. Alex showed the players some of his spin moves which he then suggested they had a go at. The players used these first without pads and then again against their coaches fighting against the pads. The session ended with a Q and A where Alex was happy to open up and talk about his experiences in the states playing in front of huge crowds and the overwhelming feeling of being a British born player to make it to such a high level of football.
The intention is that this is but the first of Alex’s opportunities to give back to the British game – returning to his alma mater in Bristol in future years to not only share his NCAA experience, but from this summer onwards, share what it’s like to be a Brit entering an NFL training camp!