Porter Brooks (center) and Payton Brooks, both of Thomson, prepare to make a kick while instructor Jim Campbell holds the ball. The children were participating in the Ray Guy kicking clinic in Thomson.
Photos by Elwood Hamilton
Even for former NFL players, the saying remains the same: you can go home again.
And in McDuffie County, there's no greater example of that than former NFL all-pro punter and Thomson native Ray Guy.
Last week, Guy held a kicking clinic at Thomson Chrysler Dodge Jeep to promote the Ray Guy award and to promote his kicking academy which begins in May. The award is given by the Greater Augusta Sports Council to the nation's top collegiate kicker. Guy was comfortable being back in Thomson.
"It's good to come back," he said. "It's just like you've never left."
A regulation sized goalpost and a smaller goalpost for younger children were erected in the Thomson Chrysler Dodge Jeep parking lot. Participants were allowed to hone their kicking skills and receive advice from Guy and his group of instructors. Pizza and drinks were also provided.
One of those instructors was former Thomson High School football coach Paul Leroy. Leroy, who was coach from 1962-68, discovered Guy in middle school and helped refine his soon-to-be legendary kicking style. Guy and Leroy's bond is one that has certainly stood the test of time.
"It's amazing that we're back on the practice field, and it's never been different," said Leroy.
Leroy, like Guy, was also glad to come home.
"It's like we never moved away," he said. "It's been great being back and watching this (Thomson High School) football team. This was always a great football town."
Hughlon Mayes, a 7th grader from Briarwood Academy, participated in the event and was definitely impressed with the setup.
Famed NFL punter and Thomson native Ray Guy sets up for a kicking clinic held in the Thomson Chrysler Dodge Jeep parking lot.
Photos by Elwood Hamilton
"It was cool," he said of the towering neon yellow goalpost.
However, it may have been a little too close for his liking.
"It was pretty easy," he said.
Guy's academy is a traveling two-day camp that will cover nearly the entire country, offering instruction from several former NFL kickers and punters, including Guy himself. Even at the free clinic in Thomson, Guy's focus was obvious.
"You let them do it," he said of the kickers. "Repetition is the key. You have to give them the basic fundamentals."
Instructors had all kickers kick for nearly 20 minutes straight without a break, driving home the Ray Guy way.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.