Leading up to his first football camp, Andre Fluellen had doubts about the turnout for Saturday's event.
Some light rain and cooler weather prior to the camp did little to ease that uncertainty.
With the former Cartersville Purple Hurricane and current Detroit Lion returning to his hometown, however, campers turned up to participate in the Andre Fluellen Summer Football Camp, which included fellow NFLers Everette Brown of the Carolina Panthers; Sammie Hill, a Lions teammate; DeMario Pressley of the Indianapolis Colts; and college football player Richard Samuel, who played at Cass High and now plays at the University of Georgia.
"It feels real good. This being my first camp, I wasn't really sure how the turnout was gonna be, and it was kind of short notice, too," Fluellen said. "But thanks to my parents [Charles Sr. and Judith Fluellen] and my brother [Charles Fluellen Jr.] and the people that came before me that kind of set the foundation and made it easy for me ... it just felt good just to have as many kids as we had out here, just for the city and for me to be able to give something back."
The camp, which took place from 9 a.m. to noon at Cartersville High's Weinman Stadium, featured instruction from the professional players as Purple Hurricane coaches offered assistance.
Constantly engaging the campers, who ranged from 7 to 18 years old, in drills, the NFL players seemed almost happier to be at the camp than their star-eyed youngsters.
Fluellen said the camp was intended to instructional but also fun.
"That's the most important thing. They want to be able to enjoy it," he said. "I didn't want it to be a camp where they're just dreading to come out here. ... It was organized, but it was still relaxed.
"Each drill that I ran, the first minute I told the kids they [had] one minute to ask me any question they want to ask and I'll tell 'em the truth."
The kids took the 6-foot-2, 302-pound defensive tackle up on his offer, but they had no interest in the league's present lockout.
"I got more [questions about] 'How much do you make? What kind of car do you drive? Do you live in a big house?'" Fluellen smiled. "And it's just cool when I can say, 'Nah, I don't really live in a big house. I drive a Tahoe, a Yukon.' I was just cool just to be able to talk to these kids."
Brown, a teammate of Fluellen's at Florida State University, noted that the camp went well due to the kids.
"It was good, man, especially the age group that we had here today," he said. "At this age, kids can definitely learn a lot. For them to have an opportunity for an NFL guy like Andre to bring some of his friends that he played with, I think it's just a great opportunity for the kids. It's great exposure for them. It'll just open up their eyes and make them look beyond the trees.
"If you can make a game like football, which is a game, fun for you but still be able to get in good work and go hard, you just reap the benefits of it better, I think. And you might reap the benefits of it quicker. Anytime you can go out and have fun, sometimes things come more natural and things may happen where you don't have to necessarily think about it as much. The kids had a great opportunity to do that today. They came out, they worked hard and they listened, and they [paid] attention to detail."
The Panthers' defensive end, who held a recent camp of his own in his native Stantonsburg, N.C., understands the importance of returning to your hometown.
"Whenever you're away from home, you always want to represent where you're from. And no matter what you do, at the end of the day, it's all about where did you come from," Brown continued. "So, you want to be able to come back to the community, be able to give the kids an opportunity, the parents an opportunity to see something that they may have never seen before.
"Andre, he was able to come down and help me with my camp and did a tremendous job. They say it's returning a favor, but I would have been here no matter what because I think highly of Andre. He's a great guy."
Hill, Fluellen's pro teammate, also did not hesitate to help out a friend.
"I'm nothing but an hour [and] 30, an hour [and] 45 minutes away, so it's nothing to me to come up here and get it done," said the West Blocton, Ala., native. "It's all fun, but anything we can do for the kids, I have no problem, no matter what it is. That's something that a person ... ain't even gotta think twice about."
Fluellen was glad to have the company.
"It's just good to have good people," Fluellen added. "Everette, more than a good football player, he's a good person. Sammie's the same way, DeMario's the same way, Rich is the same way."
Pro player football camps like Saturday's allow fans to see player's in that light.
"People see football players in a star light, a limelight, or arrogant or whatever," Fluellen said. "It's just a way for us to humble ourselves to give to other people. That's the main thing about doing this, just to give to the kids."
The camp, which was free and included autographs from the players and lunch afterward, was appreciated from the campers, including one who thanked Fluellen and said he had fun.
"That means a lot to me. More than anything in the world, I just want to be known as a good person," Fluellen acknowledged. "I play football, that's what I do, but that's not who I am. Who I am is the kid that came up, played on this same field and walked through the same stuff that everyone of these kids has walked through and just tried to make it -- just achieve a dream. I want to be able to share the foresight that any kid can do this.
"It doesn't have to be in the NFL, it can be anything in life. If you really want to achieve it, you can do it."