It wasn’t the bright lights and big-stadium atmosphere of the BlueCross Bowl games, but there was a big-game atmosphere at St. Thomas Sports Park Wednesday.
Twelve Midstate high school football teams took advantage of the indoor facility during the inaugural Tennessee Titans 7-on-7 passing tournament.
“I was amazed just to be out here seeing the bubble,” Oakland wide receiver Kaleb Oliver said. “That bubble is amazing once you get inside of it. You don’t think it’s that big until you actually get in there.”
Oakland went 5-1 overall and won the tourney title with a 23-12 win over Father Ryan in the final.
Win or lose, the biggest storyline with players was the size and quality of the Titans’ facilities.
“This one was so much fun because it’s our first time getting to play in the bubble and coming out here to see the Titans’ facility,” Clarksville Northeast wide receiver Alex Martinez said.
Centennial linebacker and running back Tyrel Dodson added, “It’s amazing. These facilities are so good. It’s an honor to play on these fields.”
Most players shared the experience via a SnapChat story or a picture message.
“We had a selfie stick running around for a minute so we got a kick out of that,” Oakland quarterback Cody Miller said.
“I’ve made a couple stories with me and a few of the players,” Oliver added. “In the bubble we made a couple of them.”
On top of the 7-on-7 competition, each team was given the chance to attend a character seminar put on by former Titans fullback Casey Cramer.
“I told my story of how I got cut and played for four teams my first year and got cut eight times playing and really hated that,” Cramer said. “I wanted to leave the NFL, but what I didn’t realize was that those trials actually developed me as a person and developed my character.”
Most had the chance to showcase their talents for some current Titans. Delanie Walker stayed around for most of the day’s action, talking with coaches on the sidelines.
“It’s always good to see these kids out here striving to be better, looking at us and trying to get to the level we’re at,” Walker said. “And it starts right here.”
His presence provided hope and focus for some of the players.
“It really kind of puts it into perspective what you can be if you really push yourself,” Wilson Central’s Conner Walls said. “It motivates me.”
Reach Sam Brown at 615-259-8232 and on Twitter @SamBrownTN.