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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 20, 2002

High school offensive linemen learn from best

By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer

There weren't any footballs flying through the air or running backs taking handoffs and dodging imaginary defenders at the Leo Goeas Foundation "On-the-Line" Football Camp.

Pittsburgh Steeler Marvel Smith, right, gives 17-year-old Jeremy Butzer of Mililani some hands-on instruction.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

It was for offensive linemen only.

Goeas, a former University of Hawai'i and NFL lineman, conducted the three-day camp which ended yesterday at St. Louis School's practice field.

Goeas said his non-profit foundation sent each Hawai'i high school a letter inviting them to sent their top two offensive linemen to the camp. An average of 50 campers per day received free instructions.

"This is strictly a way of me giving back to our kids here in Hawai'i," said Goeas, who played for the Chargers, Rams, Ravens and Broncos in an NFL career that lasted from 1990-97. "To give them an opportunity to get great teaching, to be challenged and be encouraged."

The campers were divided into six stations and rotated at the sound of a whistle. The camp had a few blocking dummies and only a couple of footballs.

"It's good coming here, it's better than practice," said Elwen Freitas, a 16-year-old at Kamehameha Schools. "We get to work with the pros who can tell us up-to-date information on techniques."

NFL players who assisted Goeas were centers Dominic Raiola (St. Louis School, University of Nebraska, Detroit Lions) and Steven Grace (Kamehameha Schools, University of Arizona, Arizona Cardinals).

Other NFL players who assisted were tackles Levi Jones of the Bengals and Marvel Smith of the Steelers. Both attended Arizona State.

“This is strictly a way of me giving back to our kids here in Hawai‘i,” says Leo Goeas, a former University of Hawai‘i and NFL player.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Goeas said there were many individuals who helped him attain his goal of reaching the NFL, and he wants to help others do the same.

"We all had positive influences along our journey of life to encourage us and to push us, whether it's parents, family, friends, to get us to where I was and to where these guys (NFL players) are now."

Also helping out were University of Hawai'i offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh and former UH standout Joe Onosai.

"It's a great opportunity to be around these people and give back myself to the local kids," Cavanaugh said.

Said Goeas: "Every single one of them was so happy to help. They have a good heart. When I asked them about it they said no problem."

And some benefitted from the instructions.

"I try to soak up everything," said Raiola, who is in his second year in the NFL. "I'm all ears to any information given at this camp."

It was the first time Goeas held a camp for high school players, and he said he would like to expand the camp in the future.

Goeas said he was impressed with the talent and effort of the campers.

"There are some kids here who are going to get full rides to some big colleges," he said.

"It's a real serious camp, a lot of hard work, and these kids busted their tails from the time they got here."

The camp covered the importance of academics, mental and physical preparation, and nutrition.

Goeas works for Development International, where he serves as a mentor for NFL offensive line prospects.

"That's going to be for linemen to come here and get trained by myself and from other guys I'm going to bring in, specifically to hone in on their skills," Goeas said.

He mentored Jones, a first-round pick last season. Jones said he spent a month and a half working with Goeas.

"I learned everything," Jones said. "I had the college offensive line techniques down, but the NFL is a different ball game."

Notes: Leo Goeas was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the third round of the 1989 NFL draft. ... The NFL Youth Football Fund partially sponsored the camp, according to Goeas. ... Donations can be sent to: The Leo Goeas Foundation, P.O. 894801, Mililani, HI 96789. For more information about the camp, call Rick Sakata at 896-2140.