DOWNEY - Downey resident Jabari Ruffin and his USC teammates T.J. McDonald and Zach Banner visited a youth football camp that took place at Downey High School on Sunday. During their visit, the Trojans spoke to the young athletes about academics, hard work, and respect.
"A lot of kids do not think twice about the importance of school at that young of an age and get surprised when they get to high school," Ruffin said.
Ruffin can relate to the young athletes that were in attendance, after being in their shoes as a member of the same camp in 2006.
"I definitely want to work with children and young athletes," Ruffin added. "I know how it feels to look up and admire someone."
Banner also expressed the importance of school and working hard.
"School is always number one," he said. "If you work hard in school and hard in football when nobody is watching then you will be successful."
While Banner and Ruffin were invited to speak at the camp, they also took something away from it.
"I learned how diverse California was going to be, especially Southern California." Banner said, "It showed me that I am going to be able to move so many types of kids for the rest of my career."
Banner recently came to California to play football at USC after living in the state of Washington for most of his life.
"I realized how much or a role model I am starting to be in my community," Ruffin explained. "I am able to start giving back which means a lot because this city and school has done a lot to support me."
Ruffin and Banner are looking to set an example and become role models to young athletes. In fact, they look to McDonald, who is a senior captain on the USC football team, as a leading example.
"TJ has been one of my biggest mentors since my first day on campus," Ruffin said.
Banner explained why McDonald is a role model to both him and Ruffin as incoming freshman.
"I know Jabari and I tend to look up to TJ; based off of how he handles everyone knowing him and how he still shows humility."