IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys get 10 scheduled OTA practices for each offseason, but choose to use just nine of them for football workouts.
That's because the final OTA day is set aside for a time when players turn into coaches during the annual Cowboys U event at Valley Ranch.
On Thursday, the Cowboys once again had a fun-filled day where the players split into eight teams to coach about 160 underserved student-athletes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The fourth annual Cowboys U, which was presented this year by the Texas Lottery, along with Paragon Healthcare and the Texas Army National Guard, saw plenty of intensity from both the kids and their coaches for the day.
Brandon Carr's team went 3-0 in the round-robin tournament and then knocked off Jason Witten's squad in the championship game to claim the title. Other captains included Tyron Smith, Doug Free, Barry Church, Orlando Scandrick, Sean Lee and Tony Romo, whose team went 0-3 this year.
"We are just as intense during this day as we are during OTAs," Carr said. "It's an opportunity for us to switch roles, switch hats, and become coaches, but at the same time show enthusiasm and passion. It's a good way for us to come together as teammates and show some camaraderie and forge our bond even stronger."
Head coach Jason Garrett, who has run a similar camp for years at Princeton University, said the one-day camp serves a good purpose for all parties involved.
"It's a great day for our team and a great day for the kids," Garrett said. "It's great for these kids to come out to our facility and work hard and get this great opportunity in front of them. I think they did a great job of taking advantage of it, but also having a lot of fun."
The event also included a character education workshop that covered topics such as sportsmanship, decision-making and more. Several of the Cowboys' players shared their personal stories, from both on and off the field, with the kids to serve as an inspirational message.
Garrett said the camp is a good break in the action for his team, especially with a three-day minicamp coming up next week.
"Our guys have worked really hard this offseason," Garrett said. "It's fun for our guys to interact with these kids. I think a lot of our players reflect back and see themselves in these kids 10-12 years ago. We challenge them to reach out and inspire them in some way. I think that happened."