ELKTON — It wasn’t long ago that NFL defensive tackle Niles Scott spent his Friday nights in autumn chasing down quarterbacks under the lights of Elkton High School.
As he prepares for his second season in the league, Scott, a defensive tackle with the Cincinnati Bengals, is focused on giving back to his hometown. With help from his alma mater, the former Cecil County standout will be hosting a free youth football camp at Elkton High on July 13.
The inaugural event, limited to the first 150 campers that sign up, will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the school grounds.
“I’ve talked to a lot of kids throughout my journey in the NFL so far, and the main group of kids that I always wanted to talk to have been the ones in my own community. I owe it to my community more than anywhere else,” said Scott, who graduated from Elkton in 2014. “This is the place. If I need to be talking to somebody or holding an event, it needs to be right here in Elkton.
“I don’t believe that Elkton has really ever had a person that’s been successful and actually came back and did something for Elkton as a whole. Not just one part, but Elkton in general,” Scott added. “That’s why it’s so important to me.”
Scott will team up with the Elkton football program, under the direction of head coach Matt Feeney. He will work alongside current players and coaches to teach area youth how to train like a pro.
“Prior to Niles’ agent reaching out to us, we were going to do a free youth camp in June. We’d been working on it, trying to secure everything,” said Feeney, who coached Scott in high school. “His agent gave me a call… and we made an agreement in that moment to postpone ours and kind of merge it into theirs. We’re working pretty close on this. Our coaches are going to be there, players helping out, there’s going to be some community members there.
“As soon as he gave us the date, we were dropping everything,” Feeney continued. “We want to be there for Niles, we want to see people come out because it’s a huge deal for the kids in this community to see what hard work can get you. We all know Niles’ story, and this might even bring more light to his story. It really gets his name out there and what he’s done to get to where he is. Now he’s giving back to the community and it’s a huge deal.”
Scott, who played college football for Western Maryland’s Frostburg State University from 2014-17, was one of a handful of NCAA Division III football prospects who earned a spot on an NFL roster last April. He endured a challenging rookie campaign, including twice being cut, but was eventually traded to Cincinnati, where he appeared in the team’s final six regular season contests.
He will open training camp later this summer hoping to once again earn a spot on the Bengals’ interior defensive line.
“I like the impact he’s having on the younger guys. He’s a role model to the team, showing them the right way to do things. Niles is giving everyone hope for the future. He’s showing everyone that it’s possible now that he’s in the league,” said rising Elkton senior Tashawn Watters Jr. “He came to the school a few times. He tells the football program that if we want to succeed, we have to work.”
Watters, a three-time All-County selection, earned Defensive Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 2017 — four years after Scott claimed the honor during a standout senior year with the Golden Elks.
“Usually when you think of someone in the NFL, you don’t think they’d be as down to earth as he is, but he’s really a normal person. He comes to talk to us, he tells us to feel free to text him about anything,” Watters explained. “Him coming back, doing things for the community, that means a lot. It means a lot to us, especially to the younger guys.”
The youth football camp is an opportunity for the Elkton football team to get a head start on the upcoming season, one year after the Elks advanced to within a game of the 2A State Championship.
“From the day he came into the weight room, the guys were all about it. They were peeking over at him, a little awe struck, but when we went over to the gym and he stood up and talked, they were locked in. They hung on every word,” Feeney said. “This is a guy that’s played on Sunday in front of people in the NFL. I would say 90 percent of the guys in the room have that dream, and for them to hear how he went about it, that just gives them hope.
“When he gets on the field, just in a couple hours, he’s going to provide so much insight. All the guys that participate in the camp are going to walk away better than when they showed up that day. I’m excited to watch it happen.”
While only 150 kids can participate in camp, Scott is inviting the whole community to take part in the festivities.
“I just hope everyone comes out and has a good time,” Scott said. “I’m encouraging everybody in the community. Make it a day, come get food, enjoy the sun, be able to enjoy kids running around and just fellowship with everybody. Break bread with your brothers, be able to just talk and no violence. Just a good time.”
Note: Those interested should contact Austin Brooks to register. Email Brooks at email@example.com or call 954-865-5657.