Cribbs returns to KSU to speak, play at football camp

Caleb Raubenolt

Not many teams are eager to punt to Cleveland Browns’ Pro Bowl return specialist Josh Cribbs. In fact, oftentimes the ball is kicked away from Cribbs, fearing his athletic ability to avert oncoming defenders is worth too much of a risk for special teams units among the NFL.

But this team, made up of nearly a dozen 9- to 14-year-old flag football players, welcomed the challenge of “tackling” one of the league’s most talented kick returners without hesitation.

After fielding a bouncing punt, Cribbs spun and juked his way right into the open hands of his scrambling defenders, and seconds later, the five-year pro had met his match.

But Cribbs, a former starting quarterback for the Golden Flashes, didn’t make his way back to the Kent State Field House so he could field a few punts.

As a guest speaker for S.P.A.N. Ministries’ Next Level flag football camp, Cribbs spoke words of guidance and encouragement to almost 250 children and parents in attendance yesterday evening.

Standing in front of a sitting audience, he told the young boys and girls if there was one thing he wanted them to remember, it was to “surround yourself around people who want the same things you want in life. Before you know it, you’ll accomplish something great.”

“Set your goals high,” he said. “I used everybody who said I couldn’t do it as motivation.”

He also reflected on his childhood days in Washington, D.C., where he said he played so many sports that his parents never had time to give him chores around the house.

“It was either football practice or baseball practice – I remember even trying tennis,” he said.

Cribbs added that playing sports offers children valuable work skills, discipline and teaches them how to mesh well with others and “build a winning team.”

Cribbs is expected to return to his alma mater next week to offer tips and sign autographs at another youth football camp, Football by Drake, held June 24-26 at Dix Stadium.

-Caleb Raubenolt