Carlos Dunlap Jr. has seen plenty of amazing things in a football career that has taken him from Fort Dorchester High School to a national championship at Florida and to the NFL, where he is a rising star with the Cincinnati Bengals.
But he said he was shocked at the turnout for the inaugural Carlos Dunlap Football Camp at Fort Dorchester.
Three hundred youngsters ranging in age from 6-14 attended the camp that included Dunlap, former Fort Dorchester teammate Robert Quinn, who now plays for the St. Louis Rams, and fellow Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson.
Dunlap said he had lots of opportunities growing up and plenty of encouragement from a supportive family who helped him chase his dream of becoming a professional football player. And he wanted to inspire other youngsters.
“I wanted to give back to my community, help get the kids active, motivate them and enlighten them to the opportunities that are available to them,” Dunlap said.
“It was crazy. I was not expecting that many kids. But I was excited, glad that people supported me and trusted me with their kids. I plan on doing it every year.”
Dunlap’s father, Carlos Sr., said his son never wavered from his football dreams from a young age, but they want youngsters to know they don’t have to settle for just one dream.
One of the instructional priorities was teaching young football players how to hit in an effort to avoid concussions.
“We also wanted to introduce kids to healthy living, teach them to listen to their parents and to listen in school,” Carlos Sr. said. “Those are all things that go into making a good athlete, but it doesn’t stop there. You have to surround yourself with positive people, be a leader and not a follower.”
The youngsters paid $10 each for the camp, but that money is being plowed back into the community, supporting youth football teams in North Charleston.
Last year, the Dunlaps sponsored five teams, and this year they will sponsor 10 teams.
Information on the camp can be found at carlosdunlap footballcamp.com, and the Dunlaps already are thinking about next year’s camp in which they want to accommodate more youngsters and bring more NFL players back to the community.
“We’re looking for sponsors who will support it and make it totally free for the kids,” Dunlap said.
“We want the kids to come out, have a good time and be motivated. We want to show them the opportunity is there for them. As long as they work hard and train hard, they can do whatever they want to do.”
A camper makes a twisting catch during the Carlos Dunlap Football Camp at Fort Dorchester High School.×
There were plenty of big smiles from youngsters who attended the inaugural Carlos Dunlap Football Camp at Fort Dorchester High School.×
Cincinnati Bengals football star Michael Johnson offers encouragement to a young camper at the Carlos Dunlap Football Camp.×