CANTON — Gouverneur's Brian Leonard and Potsdam's Trevor Scott have helped inspire young north country football players dreaming of an NFL career.
But Leonard, a Cincinnati Bengal running back from Gouverneur, and Scott, an Oakland Raider linebacker from Potsdam, also had inspiration.
Leonard credits his older brother, Nate, who attended Rutgers University before Brian did. Brian Sochia, a former St. Lawrence Central athlete, played on the defensive line for the Houston Oilers, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos during the 1980s and early 1990s.
And then there was Saranac Lake's Cy Ellsworth.
Undoubtedly the best offensive lineman produced in the north country, Ellsworth had his NFL hopes dashed by a broken collar bone late in his senior season at Syracuse University in 1995. At SU, he was captain of a team that featured future NFL All-Pro performers in quarterback Donovan McNabb and flanker Marvin Harrison.
Last week, Ellsworth returned to the St. Lawrence University campus, where he once enjoyed state regional high school victories. Slimmed down from his playing weight of 300 pounds, he was a member of the coaching staff of the Brian Leonard Football Camp.
"I always dreamed of playing in the NFL and I was right there. I was a first team All-Big East selection as a senior but then that happened," Ellsworth said, pointing to his collar bone.
"But I just had to change my goals and go on. It worked out well for me and I'm just so happy that Brian and Trevor made it to the NFL," he added.
Ellsworth shifted his career goals to education and returned to his hometown to teach in the Saranac Lake Central School system. He is currently on a four-year leave of absence from the classroom to serve on the school's administrative staff.
But he has ended his leave of absence from football.
He now coaches the Saranac Lake Red Storm modified team and recently instructed at the New England Patriots' summer camp. He was delighted to get an invitation to join the Brian Leonard Camp staff.
"It's great to be back in football. I was happy when I got the call and when they asked me to speak to the kids at the opening of the camp about goals," he said. "I really enjoyed doing it and I think it went well."
Kevin Goolden, a promising offensive-defensive line prospect at Ogdensburg Free Academy, said that Ellsworth's talk and coaching was helpful.
"I really enjoyed listening to him speak and I have really enjoyed his coaching. He has helped a me a lot," he said. "The camp has really gone well. To be around so many people who really know what they are doing has really been great for me."
Shawn Kennish, president of Elite Camp Services, LLC, which coordinated the camp, was pleased with the camp's performance.
"To get 100 players at a camp in this area is like getting 200 at a camp in New Jersey. I have worked in college football for a long time and I really feel that his camp will just keep growing," said Kennish who is a former Director of Football Operations at Rutgers University.
"A camp like this gives players from this area a great opportunity. If the kids buy into to concepts of the camp, we have people here who can help them get to the next level."