IRVING, Texas – It's the quiet month before the start of training camp, but Valley Ranch was anything but quiet this past weekend.
As the Cowboys prepare for training camp in less than one month, several local high schools were preparing themselves for the season at the first annual Nike Football Festival, held on the practice fields at the Cowboys' facility.
Sixteen local high schools converged on Valley Ranch for a weekend of nonstop football, including skills competitions and a hotly contested seven-on-seven tournament. The event kicked off Friday night with a team dinner which included guest speaker, as well as TCU and NFL legend LaDainian Tomlinson.
The schools in attendance at the event were star-studded in their own right, as local powers like Allen High School, Desoto High School and Skyline High School all attended. But the Nike Football Festival partnered with the Cowboys to bring even more cache to the proceedings, as Cowboys players like Brandon Weeden and Tyrone Crawford were on hand.
"It gives them every opportunity to succeed," said Weeden of the daylong event. "All these schools here are obviously some of the best in the state of Texas, and most would argue Texas has the best high school football in the country. The goal is to play at the next level … and events like this are kind of the starting steps to get there." [embedded_ad]
Weeden and Crawford helped with that process, as the two third-year pros agreed to come out to work with the players in attendance before the start of the tournament. Weeden, who graduated from high school all the way back in 2002, was astounded at how far high school football has come in a short amount of time.
"We didn't have anything like this. We went to seven-on-seven tournaments and the coaches were the referees. We didn't have tents or none of that, but this is unbelievable," he said. "The job that Nike has done is really remarkable … There are some kids out here that look like they could play on Saturdays for sure, and some of these guys look like they could play on Sundays."
That might be a way off, but it was certainly a step in the right direction when the Cowboys and Nike joined forces.