Iowa Football Club camp draws Hawkeye legends, and perhaps legends to be

Around 200 campers attended on Friday

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TIFFIN — If you passed by the Clear Creek-Amana High School football field on Friday afternoon you might have seen Chuck Long throwing passes to Marvin McNutt.

Or McNutt coaching high school football players on the proper way to tackle. Or Hawkeye football recruit A.J. Epenesa attempting 45-yard field goals — and coming up just short of the cross bar — with his brother while his father, Eppy Epenesa, talked with former teammates.

And those were just some of the scenes at the Iowa Football Club Camp on Friday, where 200 kids came to learn from Hawkeye greats in the club’s biggest fundraiser for the numerous children’s charities it supports.

Donning yellow shirts and, more often than not, dwarfing their campers, the Hawkeye football greats all said the camp is a great way to give back to their community and get football players excited about the upcoming season.

“It’s just fun to get out here and give back to the community and the younger generation,” McNutt said. “When you’re growing up in the area and you see it, you want to be coached by those players.”

Other Hawkeye alumni included John Alt, who played 12 years with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Alt, who said the heckling between former teammates starts almost immediately, said the camp is a good way to ensure kids get the fundamental coaching they need to for their football careers in a low-pressure environment and without pads.

“When boys become men, things change a little bit and that’s why it’s so important to ge to these kind of camps and learn the fundamentals and techniques early,” Alt said.

The former Hawkeyes coached players at their respective positions and also led tackling drills to make sure the potential future Hawkeyes did not get hurt.

A.J. Epenesa, the No. 1-ranked Class of 2017 defensive end by Rivals.com wore the same yellow shirt as his father and the other coaches.

“I’m coming in. I’m the new generation of Iowa football coming in,” Epenesa said. “It’s pretty cool to be around these guys. They lived at Iowa and they live Iowa football.

“The kids that know me look at me like I’m something cool. I think that’s cool, but it’s like I’m just a kid like they are ... I came to this camp the first year it started.”

He said, like the young attendees at the camp, he had to start somewhere, and for him, the camp was part of the path.

Before the younger campers started in the afternoon, McNutt addressed them at the 50 yard line. He told them his dream was to play in either the NFL, NBA or MLB, and people doubted his dreams after being switched from quarterback to wide receiver.

Teaching kids to dream, McNutt said, is the most important part of the camp.

“I thought I was going to play QB. They kind of switched me. They made me play wide receiver,” he told the campers. “But my dream stayed the same.”

l Comments: ian.murphy@thegazettecompany.com

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