Buford football is built upon the fundamentals and traditions handed down from one generation to another. These fundamentals and traditions are instilled in players from an early age. Boys who are rising first graders up to rising eighth-graders were eligible to participate in the Buford youth football camp conducted by the high school football staff and players.

Campers practiced their throwing skills during the Buford youth football camp. Photo by Alicia Couch Payne

While some youth sports are seeing a decline in the number of kids participating these days based on data obtained by the National Federation of State High School Associations, that decline wasn’t evident at this year’s youth football camp. Hundreds of young boys showed up at Buford High School’s fields to learn from Buford’s head coach Bryant Appling and his staff. 

The camp served multiple purposes, community outreach and a chance to scope out the next generation of Buford football players and begin to teach them the fundamentals of Buford football.

“The purpose of the camp is just so that we can get our eyes and hands on the kids that play Buford football all the way down to kindergarten and the first grade,” Appling said. “It’s a community outreach type deal where the kids can see who will coach them when they get to high school at Buford and let them hear a little bit of our fundamentals.”

The Buford High School football players helped the campers practice their defensive skills. Photo by Alicia Couch Payne

From 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday, the boys were instructed by the reigning GHSA Class AAAAAA State Championship football staff. The Wolves’ football staff have the experience, knowledge and passion to mold players into state champions. 

The staff members, who were assisted by the high school football players, guided participants through versions of the drills used with the high school team. The staff and high schoolers imparted wisdom and encouragement as the players got to try out positions on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. 

“We just try to get a little bit of that teaching embedded in them early on in their football life,” Appling said.

The kids were full of energy and enthusiasm even as the camp was nearing an end Thursday. It was clear that they enjoyed their week spent with the coaches and players from the Buford High School football program. The enjoyment was shared by more than just the campers as the staff and even the high school players made the most of the week.

“Our players (the high school players) have more energy around these kids than they do around us in the afternoons, so it’s just a good thing all the way around,” Appling said.

One of the highlights of the camp each year is when former Buford football players stop by to talk with the young aspiring football players and answer their questions. This year, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound offensive tackle for Ohio State University, Harry Miller, stopped by Thursday morning. Miller played on the offensive line at Buford and was the valedictorian for the BHS Class of 2019.

Former Buford OL Harry Miller, who currently is an offensive lineman for Ohio State dropped by the camp to impart a little wisdom into the campers. Photo by Alicia Couch Payne

Miller told the campers about his journey and encouraged the boys to never give up, to work hard and when they were hot, tired and felt like giving up, to never give up. He told them to make the most of their time at Buford. That at Buford, they have the best chance of being successful if they put in the work.

The campers asked Miller question after question. One of the questions that stood out was about recruiting. Miller wasn’t heavily recruited until the spring of his junior year and he admitted to feeling a little discouraged by it. Miller told the campers about his experience and what the staff told him. The staff at Buford told him to be patient, keep working hard and his time would come. It did come and Miller got the offer he had been waiting for, an offer from one of the premier football programs in the nation with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Miller was the nation’s No. 2 center and No. 30 overall prospect for the Class of 2019. 

Harry Miller, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Ohio State offensive lineman, caught up with Buford head coach Bryant Appling at the Buford youth football camp. Photo by Alicia Couch Payne

Since going to Ohio, Miller worked hard and has become one of the top five offensive linemen and is a regular starter for the team. Miller is but one of the many successful players to have come out of Buford football, each one imparting bits of wisdom learned to the future generations.

The week ended with the campers breaking up into teams for a friendly game to cap off a whirlwind week learning the fundamentals of Buford football. Spirits were high among all in attendance as the week came to an end. 

“It has been a great week. Eighty-five more campers than we have ever had. I am glad that we had two fields to use,” Appling said. 


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