Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph fondly remembers the summers of his youth, when his parents would wake up early in the morning and haul him to youth sports camps, whether it was football, baseball or basketball.
That was why Rudolph had a big smile of his face Monday morning when he kicked off his two-day youth football camp at Kuhlman Field in Edina.
“I probably get more out of it than the kids do at times, running around with these guys,” Rudolph said. “You just see the energy and enthusiasm that they have for the game of football and just to be out here, whether they have a little group of friends or are out here by themselves and they’re meeting a bunch of new friends, the kids have a ton of fun.”
More than 250 kids ranging from first to eighth grade registered for the camp, which is led by Rudolph and area prep and college football coaches. The camp, back after a one-year hiatus, also got an assist from The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities and Northwestern Mutual.
“We’ve got a bunch of great kids out here,” the 25-year-old said.
Also making appearances at the camp Monday were teammates Chad Greenway and Harrison Smith, two Vikings players who already held their own youth football camps in Minnesota and Tennessee, respectively.
The kids were split up into stations across Kuhlman Field, some of them chucking footballs while others learned how to run different routes.
They also had plenty of questions for Rudolph in between the whistles.
“Kids are funny,” he said. “I think one kid asked if I lived in a mansion and am I rich because I play football? Is my contract up next year? Who’s my favorite player on the team besides myself? Who’s our worst player on the team? I tried to explain to him that you can’t really have a worst player, because if you’re the worst, you’re not going to be there anymore. They’re kids. … You’re never really sure what you’re going to get from them.”
Rudolph will be back on the field Tuesday for the final day of camp. But it only took a couple of hours Monday for him to get his own juices flowing.
“You come out here and see them running around, it gets me excited for Saturday when we get to go to [training] camp [in Mankato],” he said.