(WCIA) — Illinois cornerback Tailon Leitzsey knows first hand what hard work can do — going from a walk-on living in his car to earning a scholarship. So when Leitzsey was concerned with a rise in crime in the Champaign-Urbana community, he didn’t want to sit on the sidelines.
“I wanted to do something about it, and what better way than doing something I love,” said Leitzy. “I know for a fact at least 160 kids signed up. Just excited to work with all the kids, and interact with them.”
The free Orange and Blue Camp gave kids the chance to learn the game from more than a dozen current Illini. Getting his teammates to help too didn’t take much convincing from Leitzsey.
“For Champaign, the community, they support us. It was only right that we support them,” says defensive lineman Owen Carney.
“I know they look up to us, just showing them we’re normal,” says Williams. “We’re just like them and whatever they dream, it’s possible.”
“I’m ready for the kids to get comfortable and open up and then they start talking smack to us,” says defensive lineman Rod Perry. “Like they’re ready to start competing with us.”
New name, image, and likeness rules are already starting to benefit players in all college sports — including Leitzsey. The Chicago car insurance company Clearcover have already signed the senior corner to a $10,000 deal. Even with his new found recognition, Leitzsey is still focused on putting in the work and helping his community.
“We’re really doing this for the kids,” says Leitzsey. “Giving them the opportunity to be around us and for us to teach them something. And they teach us too.”
Illini players aren’t done giving back. Next Saturday Donny Navarro will also host his own free wide receivers camp.