- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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"Dominque, nice to meet you," Garrett said.
Easley quickly responded, "Coach, I've met you already. I came to your camp at Princeton University when I was in high school."
Every June Garrett holds a football camp for kids from the area at his alma mater in New Jersey. Easley attended Curtis High School in Staten Island, New York, and made the drive to Princeton.
If things worked out a little differently Easley could have been a Cowboy, but the New England Patriots took him with the 29th pick in the first round.The Cowboys had him in for a pre-draft visit because they liked him as a player and they wanted to check out this surgically-repaired knee.
"The Easley story is a really good story," Garrett said. "He talked to the kids and when he stands up there, there is the 29th pick in the first round and he said, ‘I sat in that seat five years ago, so don't tell me you can't do this.' And there's another kid there every year named Freddie Santana, who also sat in those seats. He ended up going to Holy Cross, graduated from there, was their team captain and was selected for Teach for America and did a couple of years down in Atlanta. Now he's teaching in Brooklyn. The big challenge with those kids, there's about 300 of them, and they come from really tough places. So the idea that they belong and can do something like this, you put Dominque Easley up there, you put Freddie Santana up there and say, ‘I was in Row 3 five years ago,' I think it's effective."
Easley's team ended up winning the round-robin 6-on-6 tournament.
"He won when he was a player and he won as a coach, so that was the big story line," Garrett said.
The football is a nice component of the camp, but Garrett hopes something bigger develops. Perhaps in the future he will meet another graduate of his camp at the combine.
"We've got them for 10 hours one day out of the year, but I challenge our coaches," Garrett said. "I tell them, ‘I believe we can make a difference in these kids' lives, OK, so they're going to show up here at 8 and we're going to send them on their way tonight at 6 and we have this window to try to make a difference.' We try to say the right things, do the right things and hopefully make some kind of impact."