Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Incoming Freshmen Run Youth Workout

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Incoming Freshmen Run Youth Workout

Article excerpt

On a warm Friday afternoon, football players in Pitt's incoming freshman class were going through blocking drills, crawling under wooden logs and running up and down hills.

No, this wasn't some new addition to summer workouts put in place by Panthers coach Paul Chryst. The players were actually the coaches Friday, leading children at Mel Blount Youth Home through football drills and other outdoor activities in Claysville, Washington County.

The trip has become an annual tradition for the newest Panthers, giving a lift to the boys living at the home. The home, opened in 1989, provides a shelter for boys who are victims of child abuse or neglect.

"It's awesome that we have a chance to come up here and spend time with these kids," tight end Scott Orndoff. "We're pretty blessed with the life that we have. To see these kids coming out here, having a good time, enjoying themselves, you can't beat it."

Blount, a Pro Football Hall of Famer for the Steelers, introduced the Pitt players to the children by using the team as an example of a group of people coming together from disparate locations (very far, in the case of defensive tackle and Hawaii native Jeremiah Taleni) to unite for a common goal.

"It's what you make of your situation," Blount told reporters after his welcome speech. "We have kids here whose parents are drug addicts, but you can't use that as an excuse. You can learn from that and you can be a better person because of it. A lot of times, it can inspire you not to be like that, to go ahead and excel so you don't have to live that kind of life."

Blount uses motivational tactics to help the children at the home. A month ago, the Steelers' 2013 draft picks visited the youth home. Friday, it was the Panthers freshmen dividing up and playing football with the boys, ages 7 to 17. Wide receiver Tyler Boyd even helped show them some new dance moves.

"I felt like some of the kids were down a little bit," he said. "We had to get hype, bring them up. With the breakdown dances, it just boosted the whole energy and atmosphere. [We're] having fun with these kids and they're pumped up about it as well. …

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