FRISCO, Texas – Once again, the Cowboys got a chance to see things from their coaches' perspective on Thursday.
As has become customary, the Cowboys wrapped up their OTA program Thursday morning with their annual Cowboys U high school football camp. Presented by the Texas Lottery, the event saw underserved high school students from around the North Texas area come to The Star for a day of football and life-skills teaching lessons.
"I think it's a special day for the kids. They have so much enthusiasm for being here," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "I think they're really impressed with our facility, obviously, but the interaction with our players throughout the day."
The Cowboys' roster split into 12 teams Thursday morning, captained by Jason Witten, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Dez Bryant, Dak Prescott, Sean Lee, Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and Orlando Scandrick.
"We make it clear with them at the outset that this isn't an autograph session, this isn't a selfie session – this is a chance to get with these guys," Garrett said. "And our players really embrace it. I think the kids respond. I think the kids get a lot out of it, but our players get a lot out of it, too. It's really a great day for our team."
The morning tournament saw the 12-team field cleared down to just two teams – Team Jones and Team Lee. Playing in front of a raucous Ford Center crowd, Team Lee won the day in a 12-6 victory to claim the 2017 championship.
"It was fun," Lee said. "This day is about being around those kids, seeing their passion and enthusiasm. But it's nice to win. It's hard not to be competitive in these situations."
The word "competitive" is probably an understatement, as Cowboys' players echoed the campers' enthusiasm, treating each down with intensity.
"The person with the hardest job out here is the official, the referee – because they get a lot of grief from both sides throughout the game," Garrett said. "They've got to hold their ground, they've got to stand firm. But the competitive juices certainly get flowing."
Regardless of victory or defeat, though, the camp was a win for every player in attendance. Following the tournament, all the participants got to sit down for life-skill advice from several members of the Cowboys' roster.
"We hope that the camp will provide an impactful experience for deserving student-athletes who will remember the event for years to come," Garrett said. "This camp offers a unique opportunity for our players and coaches to make a meaningful difference in the lives of these young men."
Other sponsors for the camp include Dunkin Donuts, Dairy Max, Albertson's, Papa John's, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper and Gatorade.