They came out one-by-one for what was a reunion of sorts, jogging through a line of kids with hands extended for high-fives.

Ameer Abdullah, Jason Ankrah, Kenny Bell still sporting his recognizable 'fro, Jeremiah Sirles, DeJon Gomes, Jay Moore, some 1990s representation with Joel Makovicka, and, lastly, Will Compton.

Compton, now a linebacker in the NFL with Washington, got to thinking last year how there wasn't really a camp put on by Husker alumni in the state of Nebraska. Seemed like that should change.

"Everybody knows how passionate Nebraska fans are with their football players, so I thought why not put something together where we get some of the recent guys that are playing, get them together with some kids who get to play with guys they loved and watched," Compton said.

The idea grew into a reality, with about 150 campers showing up over two sessions on a Monday in June to work on football drills inside Cook Pavilion with the former Huskers.

Kids caught passes from Bell and Compton. They ran ladders in front of Gomes and Ankrah. They high-stepped over bags in front of Sirles and Makovicka. They ran a cone drill in front of one of the better I-backs in history, Abdullah.

Camp proceeds will be donated to the TeamMates Mentoring Program of Lincoln Public Schools.

The goal: Learn some football, sure. But mostly have fun.

"We want them to enjoy being around the Ameer Abdullahs, the Kenny Bells ... the big thing is them having that experience now while guys are still relevant and fresh faces to them," Compton said.

Abdullah, riding the momentum of a strong finish to his rookie season with the Detroit Lions, will also host his own camp at Lincoln Pius X on July 9 and Omaha Bryan on July 10.

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Everyone was in loose spirits Monday before the grind of a new season. Abdullah jokingly took a selfie of Compton as he did interviews. Kids formed a line near the running back to have him sign the backs of their T-shirts.

"We all get to see each other and hang out and that's a huge plus, because we all don't see each other that much anymore," Compton said. "To come back and do something and still have our name out there in the community ... I think it's big that kids get to experience an environment like this around guys that they loved watching."

After signing with Washington as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Compton became a central figure for the NFC East champions last season, posting 94 tackles and working his way into a starting role at middle linebacker when the playoffs rolled around.

Compton felt the key to that success was staying the course and believing in himself even when things weren't always going his way.

"There were some low moments, but I've always believed in myself."

He just as much enjoys keeping tabs on what his former Husker teammates are doing with their NFL careers.

"I love it, man," Compton said. "I love seeing everybody be successful. Especially my friends and guys that I grinded with. It's really cool that we all get to come back here and reflect on things and talk about what we're doing now."

He also is fascinated seeing how much the town has changed even since he finished his senior year as a Husker in 2012.

"It's great being down here," Compton said. "Lincoln is such a growing community now with the Haymarket and everything. It's awesome. I think they're doing a really good job with that, and Husker football, that's never going to change. I think they're doing a lot of good stuff this offseason and I hope they make a great run this year."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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