YOUNGSTOWN - Entering his seventh NFL season, Youngstown native Brad Smith has always wanted to be known as someone who gives back to his local community.
To that end, he began the Brad Smith True Foundation which, according to the foundation's website, "works to promote education, discipline and organized activity for youth in the community."
For the fifth consecutive year, Smith's foundation has run a football camp for area boys and girls. The camp took place Saturday at Youngstown State University's Stambaugh Stadium.
"Wish we had this when I was younger," Smith said. "Just to see them come out, the 200 boys, and not only the boys but the coaches who volunteered their time and don't ask for a thing. It's been amazing to see."
Smith added that an additional 35 to 40 girls also participated.
Among the NFL players who joined Smith at the camp were C.J. Spiller of the Buffalo Bills and Jerricho Cotchery of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who volunteered their time to help coach.
Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
Former Chaney High School standout and Buffalo Bills player Brad Smith directs campers Saturday at YSU.
"The guys that are here, Jerricho Cotchery from the Steelers, C.J. Spiller from the Bills, Eric Smith from the Jets, they were so gracious about coming," Smith said. "They came in early and just been hanging out. I think they're enjoying themselves."
Both Spiller and Cotchery said it was their pleasure to help Smith at the camp.
"Far from the football, Brad's a better person," Spiller said. "I was able to have him come and do my camp, so I told him I wanted to come and work his and see his hometown. The kids are having a fun time out here, and that's the most important thing."
"Growing up we didn't have a lot of football camps," Cotchery added. "I wasn't able to attend these type of camps. He's a good friend of mine, and I just wanted to come out and support him today."
Smith enjoyed a comeback season in 2011, his first with the Bills after five with the New York Jets. He caught 23 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown after catching a total of only 23 passes the prior three seasons.
Smith said a full offseason program should help both he and his teammates for the upcoming season.
"It should be good, not only the guys we have but just more continuity going on with the guys we already have," he said. "Just time to practice and actually have OTAs and minicamps and work together, as opposed to last season with the lockout.
"Right now we have about a month break before we head back to training camp on July 25. Been getting some work in, enjoying time with my family."
Smith, a 2002 graduate of Chaney High School, was asked about his alma mater dropping all sports programs. The football team's last season was 2010 when it went 1-9.
"That's where I learned a lot about the game of football and life," he said. "It's still a school, it's still in existence, so hopefully it'll come back around. When you have to educate, it comes first always."