Sandersville native and retired 15-year NFL veteran Takeo Spikes is trying to pave the way for younger athletes by teaching and inspiring them to do their best on the field. 

 "We are more than athletes! We are more than athletes!" about a hundred kids chanted at Takeo Spikes' 16th annual Football Skills Camp. 

"It's always good to be back in the House of Pain," Spikes, a former Washington County football player, said. "It started here. I remember back in the '90s, mid-'90s when we first made our mark." 

Spikes is a 2-time All-Pro linebacker who played college football at Auburn, and led the camp at his old stomping grounds with the help of some former WaCo legends like AJ Gray, and NFL guys like former Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn.  

"To have the type of guys here giving instructions to let these kids know you can do anything if you are willing to work for it, stay focused, and be committed," Spikes said. 

About 100 kids between 7 and 16 years old came out to the one-day camp and competed in different drills learning football fundamentals, and Takeo says he understands the value of holding these skills camps and will continue having them in his hometown.

"Because somebody invested in me, that's the reason why I continue to invest into this community," Spikes said. "I understand the importance of what these kids need here, not only in Sandersville, Georgia, but I understand the importance of it when you look at it from the big picture just in rural cities like this. "

And that bigger picture?

"What we come in, what we provide is hope," Spikes said. "And sometimes that's all you need is hope for kids who don't have anything to hold onto." 

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