MACON, Ga. — He’s now a Denver Bronco, but once was a Westside Seminole.
“It started for me here. And to be where I am now, I definitely don't take any of this for granted," Denver Bronco Kareem Jackson said.
Going on his 12th year in the National Football League, Jackson still gets home.
“They just kind of instilled that dedication in me,” Jackson said. “Playing here Friday nights, the crowds. Just learning the small fundamentals as a kid and just transferred into where I am now.”
Jackson is now teaching those same fundamentals to a new group, with his own group of stars – a group which includes two-time All-Pro Justin Simmons, former Georgia Bulldog J.R. Reed, and Wilkinson County's own Bud Dupree, who is entering his second year as a linebacker with the Tennessee Titans.
“To bring guys with me, guys who just come out and volunteer so the kids can see them,” Jackson said. “To know that it's not impossible for them to make it out of Macon, Georgia.”
“Kareem's a great guy, he's a great community leader,” Dupree said. “He's a key cornerstone for the things that we did, even me growing up personally seeing him make it to the league, letting me know I can make it, along with him, Demaryius (Thomas), Casey Hayward. Those are all great guys that gave us hope and something to look forward to.”
The list of Central Georgia’s best and brightest alums goes on and on.
The only thing left to do? Keep adding names.
“I used to come to this same field for Travis Jones's football camp when I was young,” Dupree said. “So I understand the same way that they feel. They're trying to see their aspirations of going to the NFL, they want to make it out of their situation. They want their family to be proud. We're giving them that living testimony, that living opportunity that they can do it.”
It's a source of motivation for those who are trying to make it big, but also for those who already have.
“It just kind of gives you a different motivation to be able to see where it all started,” Jackson said. “I don't get to come back home much but to come here and see these kids and see all the familiar faces it definitely gives you a little added motivation going into the season.”
It's a quick trip home to Macon for Jackson – he and his teammates head back to Denver on Sunday, while Dupree will head back to Nashville as OTA’s continue across the league this summer.