Aaron Donald spent the weekend of June 25 sharing what he’s learned from his Pittsburgh Panther days all the way to his career with the Los Angeles Rams.
And the lucky recipients of his knowledge? Pittsburgh area youth from kids as young as six to one highly-coveted high school recruit from his city.
Donald, who grew up in Steel City, ran a youth football camp called “Living in the Pocket” at his Penn Hills neighborhood on June 26 according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Before that, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year was on video teaching pass rushing nuggets to Ta’Mere Robinson, a four-star defender according to 247Sports for the class of 2023.
Camp Returns After the Pandemic
Donald and his foundation AD99 Solutions had to resort to virtual connection last year due to the spread of coronavirus, taking away the opportunity for kids in 2020 to learn football and life skills from Donald.
But this time, Donald and his team of trainers welcomed a reported 130 camp participants at the Fralic Athletic Center in Penn Hills. The Post-Gazette reported some camp attendees flew in from as far west as Kansas City.
“It’s just an opportunity to not just teach the kids, but be here and interact with them,” Donald told John McGonigal of the Post-Gazette. “For them to be around me in person, I think it goes a long way. We had an opportunity to talk to them through Zoom. But now we’re here in person, teaching them, joking around with them.”
Donald got the kids to perform foot shuffling drills, attack tackling dummies and spent one-on-one sessions teaching pass rush maneuvers to younger linemen.
Donald even gave one young camp participant a boost of confidence he’ll remember.
Again, the spread of coronavirus led to an empty field and the foundation relying on Zoom to connect with participants. But the 2021 version was a sigh of relief for Donald and “Living in the Pocket.”
“It’s great. COVID was definitely tough for everybody. Being stuck in the house, we couldn’t do too much in-person stuff. But having the opportunity to finally be here, in-person now, be around the kids, meet a couple of these kids and get a feel of their personalities and have a little fun, it’s been great,” Donald said.
Along with Donald giving back to area youth between the ages of six to 18, his foundation shared on Twitter how leftover lunches from the camp were donated to a nearby food shelter.
The No. 3 Rated Pennsylvania Prospect Learns from ‘A.D.’
It’s not often prep football athletes get one-on-one teaching from an All-Pro defender. But Robinson became Donald’s student for one day.
In viral videos posted online on Twitter, Donald was seen teaching various hand swipes, coming across the edge and other pass rush moves to the linebacker/safety who stars at Brashear High School in Pittsburgh.
Per 247Sports, Robinson is the state of Pennsylvania’s No. 3 overall prospect for his graduating class. In-state Big 10 representative Penn State offered Robinson an early scholarship. Conference rivals Ohio State and Michigan are also trying to court the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder. There’s also Donald’s alma mater and the neighborhood university aiming to keep Robinson home with its four-year offer.