McALLEN — In college, Bernard Blake’s mom would threaten him every week.
“She said if she didn’t see me playing my hardest, she would cancel the channels I would be on,” he said. “I believe her. She would have.”
Fortunately for him — and mom — one of Blake’s strong suits was his work ethic and self-confidence.
“I was 110-percent sure on the football field and I wasn’t afraid of anyone, “he said. “They could (all get tackled and) all fall the same, and to me, I was the toughest. The bigger they were, the harder they would fall. Nobody loved the game and wanted to compete more than me.”
Blake, from Bastrop, Texas, ended up having a stellar career at Colorado State and then was signed by the Green Bay Packers as a free agent after an impressive camp. Blake began having headaches one week before training camp began in 2015. The result was a brain aneurysm, and when he informed the Packers of the condition, they released him.
Still, he made it to the sport’s highest level and now wants to be a resource to help football players in the Valley achieve their dreams. He is partnering with Jaime Cavazos, owner of Cavazos Sports Institute in McAllen, and will hold a one-day pro-style combine and skills camp on Sunday.
The camp will be divided into two age groups. The first one will be held from 9 a.m. to noon and is for ages 9-12. The second camp will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and is for ages 13 and older. For more information, visit csitrain.com or call (956) 451-2017.
Attendees will get accurate professional laser measurements in the 40-yard dash, the standing broad jump, the vertical jump and the medical ball power toss. This will give them an accurate reading of where they stand compared to others across the nation and where they need work.
After that, Blake will take the players out and test them with specific drills.
“We’re going to highlight movements and angles needed to play and do various drills and give detailed critiques to every kid here,” said Blake, who recently moved to the Valley, adding that he’s impressed by the talent and the desire of the local athletes. “It’s not always just a matter of talent, but of the resources that are around you. You have to know how to plan, how to play and know the game.”
Cavazos has a master’s degree in sports science, is a former Division I head strength and speed coach and certified strength and conditioning specialist. He has worked with more than 60 high school athletes who have signed Div. I scholarships.
“Anyone who wants to see where they stand athletically, this will take them through a pro style camp and everything you would see at an NFL combine,” Cavazos said. “Then Bernard will work with their skills and showcase skills they need to get.
“If you are going to be small or not as tall or as heavy, you make up for it in other areas, like Bernard did. Everything has changed these days. You can’t just lift weights or just work hard. There is so much science involved. When everybody is working hard, what are you doing to separate yourself? I always say if you want skill, go to somebody who has that skill. Learn from someone who has played at the highest level in Division I and played pro football. If that’s available, you have to take it.”