Marcus Paschal wanted to fulfill a dream before he heads north on July 28 to begin training camp for the Baltimore Ravens. Mission accomplished. The Marcus Paschal Youth Weekend took place Friday and Saturday at Largo High School. After a 7-on-7 tournament on Friday (in which Palm Harbor University beat East Lake in the title game), about 89 kids joined the former Largo standout for his one-day camp on Saturday. Through a joint effort with his mother's church, St. James AME of Clearwater, Paschal conducted the five-hour camp at Packer Stadium. He worked the kids through football drills, scrimmages and agility training. "I hope to do a football camp again next year," the 25-year-old Ravens safety said. "Growing up in Ridgecrest, I know the interest in football here is huge.'' Paschal played his college football at the University of Iowa and was with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007 before signing on with the Ravens last year. We caught up with him Monday to discuss the weekend and his life in football.
1Who introduced you to football? It was my dad (Anthony Paschal) and mom (Anita Williams). I played youth football for Largo Junior Packers starting when I was 8 years old. Both mom and dad kept my interest in football going. They always kept me on track.
2How'd you keep almost 90 kids reeled in on Saturday? It wasn't hard. They all were there because they love football. So many of the kids knew I was from here, and they knew that I was like them — that I had a dream to play football when I was a kid. So they were able to put a face to that common dream. Almost everyone behaved because they were excited to be a part of it.
3How do you like playing football in Florida in the summer? I love it. There's no better way to get ready for the game itself than summertime here. You're forced to get in shape with the weather, and you can put it all together before the season starts.
4When a child gets up in the morning to prepare to play in this heat, what should he or she do? To play football here, you need to stay hydrated with water and Gatorade. Let's say you're going to step on the field at 10 a.m. That means you gotta have breakfast inside you by 8 or 8:30. It could be a healthy cereal, eggs, even a healthy sandwich, but it's important to eat a breakfast that will see them through the practice.
5Do you see Largo as a part of your past, present or future? Largo will always be part of my life. I will always come back to this community. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll coach back at Largo High School. Coach (Rick) Rodriguez taught me what it takes to get to the next level, and he knows what I want to do as well.