Two Hunt County products who played in the National Football League gave back to the local community on Saturday.
Byron Bell and Justin Rogers worked with youngsters from ages 7-10 and 11-14 in two sessions of the Gridron Great Football Camp at the Greenville SportsPark. They were assisted in coaching by Commerce head football coach Cody Farrell and his staff.
Bell earned all-state honors in 2006 as an offensive lineman with the Greenville Lions and then played four seasons at the University of New Mexico, starting in 36 games.
Bell signed with the Carolina Panthers as a free agent in 2011 and wound up starting as a rookie at right tackle for the Panthers. Bell played with the Panthers from 2011-14, then from 2015-16 with the Tennessee Titans, in 2017 with the Dallas Cowboys and in 2018 with the Green Bay Packers. He’s appeared in 102 NFL games, starting in 83.
Bell is currently a free agent and said he’s hoping to rejoin the Packers.
“It’s in the works,” said Bell. “I believe I’ll be back.”
Bell said he enjoyed being around the kids.
“I had a great time today,” he said. “Coming back home is always nice.
Rogers played on state championship teams in 1999 and 2001 with the Commerce Tigers before heading to Southern Methodist University. During his four-year career as a defensive lineman with the Mustangs, Rogers recorded 123 tackles, including 28 for losses and 19 1/2 quarterback sacks. He also forced five fumbles.
The New England Patriots chose Rogers in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL draft. He was waived by the Patriots but picked up by the Dallas Cowboys in 2007. Rogers played in 16 games for the Cowboys in 2007 and 15 games in 2008. He finished his NFL career with 35 tackles, mostly on special teams.
“It’s great giving back to the community,” said Rogers. “I remember when I was a kid. It meant a lot (being around former players). It’s a good event.”
Rogers said he works in the oil and gas business but would like to get more involved in football.
“The high school and middle school years were the most influential for me,” he said.
Campers ages 7-10 worked from 8 to 10 a.m. and the campers from 11-14 followed with a session that ended around 12:30.
Farrell made a point to congratulate the campers on their effort in the July heat.
Rogers’ father Jimmie and stepmother Tisha sponsored the event along with L3Harris.
Employees with the Greenville Parks and Recreation Department were on hand to answer any questions about the Greenville Youth Sports League.