Word of the good times had at the inaugural Blue Devil Elite Football Skills Camp didn’t just spread among those that participated.

As excited as the area kids were to take part in the second edition of the camp on July 7, the Merced College football players were every bit as excited to help host it.

Head coach Bob Casey had not shortage of volunteers to help give hands-on training to the 80-plus kids that braved the July heat for the camp.

“It was fun, just to help them out and teaching them the proper way to do the drills,” sophomore running back W.R. Sanders said. “Seeing them smile and really get after the drills felt good.”

Casey and company once again teamed up with Merced Blue Devils Youth Football to give the area’s aspiring athletes an informative, interactive and low-cost experience. For just $15, participants ranging from 6 to 14 years old got to rotate through eight different stations designed to help improve their technique, speed and agility. The three-hour camp also included lunch and a T-shirt.

“This isn’t a fundraiser for us, we probably break even on the camp,” Casey said. “This is an opportunity for our program and our players to give back to the community that supports us. Talking to the parents, a lot of them are really appreciative because usually you have to go out of the area to participate in a quality camp like this. One dad said they drove down from Modesto that morning.

“We had right around 84 participants this time and it probably would have been more if it wasn’t Fourth of July weekend.”

The weather was much more cooperative this time around. Casey and company cut the inaugural camp short as triple-digit heat took its toll on everyone. A nice cloud cover kept the second camp relatively cool and the campers’ spirits high.

The Blue Devil players could sense that energy as they got a taste of life on the coaching side of the ball, teaching the kids proper tackling technique, footwork and ball protection.

“I think this year was a lot better than the first year,” Sanders said. “We had a lot more guys out to help run it. Guys had heard how much fun the first camp was and wanted to be a part of it.

“The extra guys helped keep everyone engaged and made sure it ran smoothly. I think it’s just going to get bigger from here.”