Besides receiving tips from three former NFL players, young people who attended the Talance Sawyer Football Camp at Dotson Park on Saturday received an added bonus — the possibility of being on TV.
Footage from the camp will be used in an upcoming documentary on Talance Sawyer's life story. A three-sport standout at Bastrop High, Sawyer accepted a football scholarship to UNLV and went on to spend five seasons with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.
He currently resides in Mansfield, Texas where he volunteers as a consultant for a non-profit organization.
"I'm working with kids as far as nutrition — helping them develop their bodies," Sawyer said. "I talk to kids about their prospects of going to college. Basically, it's all things working with young people and helping them prepare for the future."
For the past couple of months, Sawyer has been focusing his efforts on the documentary.
"It pretty much shows how I grew up and how sports played a role in keeping me on the right path and in keeping me out of certain situations, from Louisiana to Vegas to Minnesota," Sawyer said.
Sawyer says the aim of the film is to help young people realize that they can control their own destiny.
"A lot of young people today are in a similar situation to what I was in, growing up in a single parent household in a poverty-stricken environment," Sawyer said. "I want to paint a picture and show them that their situation doesn't have to be long-term. Whether it's sports, education or whatever — you have a choice in what you become."
Willie Hunter, an independent filmmaker, is producing the documentary.
"Willie Hunter was the editor for Blade II and has had his hand in quite a few other movies," Sawyer said.
Sawyer says the documentary will include interviews with several of his role models.
"Interviews with coaches, teachers and counselors, who played a role in my life ,will be part of the documentary," Sawyer said. "Conducting the Bastrop interviews is the next step in the process."
Sawyer expects the project to be completed within the next 3-4 months.
"I'm looking to release it in December or early January," Sawyer said. "It will probably be completed before then, but I have a few things I want to do marketing-wise before I release it."
Sawyer says the film will initially be released in Bastrop.
"It's for all youth around the country — whoever can draw inspiration from it," Sawyer said, "but Bastrop and Louisiana is where I will do my documentary release. I will release it back home."
A defensive end, Sawyer was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 1999 NFL draft. His best season came in 2001 when he registered 56 tackles, five sacks, an interception and a forced fumble. Sawyer started all 16 games 2000 and 2001, before being slowed by injuries over his final two seasons.