With Brownwood High School 2010 all-state quarterback Graylon Brown airing out passes to former all-state teammate Jaxon Shipley, Gordon Wood Stadium was a throwback to seasons passed Saturday morning.
The Lions Passing Clinic brought a few familiar faces back to Gordon Wood Stadium as Shipley, Brown, Luke Chastain and Cade Johnson came together to show a future generation of Brownwood Lions what they learned while playing for the maroon and white and a few lessons from their college and professional careers.
“It’s awesome. I get to come back to the place I played high school sports,” said Brown, who went on to play baseball for Angelo State University. “I was born and raised here and you want to give back and teach the kids something so they can get to the level and get experience so that, one day, they may get a scholarship.”
During the camp, the Brownwood grads led students ages seventh- to 12th-grade through a variety of drills from simple route running to an NFL-style gauntlet drill with a receiver taking passes from four different quarterbacks while sprinting 50 yards. Brown said with approximately two-dozen players participating, each coach was able to give each attendee specialized attention.
“I tell them ‘You have to take what the game gives you,’” Brown said. “You can’t panic. You can’t rush. You have to make a lot of reads and also, with QBs, I tell them ‘Let your players work. Let the schemes work. They’re going to work off the DBs, just make the best possible throw and do whatever you have to do to get it there.
“They’ll be good at it. It’s just small things to give them confidence. The main thing is to give them confidence. They like looking up to older guys and that’s why I like coming back. You try to show them what you’ve done and try to pass it down and spark their game. The kid might have a strong arm, but you can show him footwork just to give him a good game.”
Shipley, who shined at Brownwood and as a receiver at the University of Texas before a brief career with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, said he made a few adjustments in the second iteration of his camp. Formerly known as the Big Country Passing Clinic, he changed the name because most of its attendees are currently or will attend BHS and further refined the camp in its second year so that he could maximize every minute with the campers.
“Last year I felt it ran really well, but this year I felt like I had the coaches I really wanted to have,” Shipley said. “Anytime you can get higher quality coaches it makes a difference. It’s the coaches and the overall flow and structure of the camp. Every minute is accounted for, every break time is accounted for and when you have a structure like that it is the backbone of what makes a camp or clinic successful.”
Shipley said his camp focuses on the mental aspects of passing and receiving as much as the physical. With many of the instructors having college-level experience, Shipley believes the camp also gives future generations of Brownwood Lions a mental edge because they come from a town capable of producing elite-level talent.
“I remember dreaming about being in the NFL from the time I was little,” Shipley said. “You have to see something in your mind, see it clearly, before it can come to fruition. If you don’t have dreams and aspirations of playing at a higher level, then most of the time it’s not going to happen. For the kids, it’s creating a vision — creating a goal — and trying to take the necessary steps to obtain those. You have to see it before you can ever achieve it. We want to make sure we never close the door on these kids. Who are we to tell a kid they can’t go play college football or in the NFL?”