ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Music bumping, kids stretching, Jerry Jeudy sneaked into the line and put his arm around two young campers. The first boy reacted with shock. The second, much younger, burst out in a smile visible 20 yards away.
Jeudy grinned and hopped into the warm up to the campers' delight. This is why Jerry Jeudy held his first annual football camp Sunday at UCHealth Training Center. It brought back memories of when fell in love with the game.
"I wanted to bring the community out here and have some fun. I thought it was best to do it, and why not do it, at the Broncos facility? It’s exciting with all the kids out here. It’s a lot of fun," Jeudy said. "I never attended anything like this. I started going to camps when I was in high school. Starting out young is good for the kids. They learn fast and will learn a lot of new things."
Joined by his brother Terry Jeudy and teammates K.J. Hamler and Tyrie Cleveland, Jeudy bounced from station to station as the kids threw passes, dived at the rolling tackling ring and caught passes.
Jeudy was comfortable in this setting. He returns to his childhood in these moments. An example of how much occurred recently in Virginia. He saw kids playing ball, and jumped into the mix.
"How you know about that?" said Jeudy to The Athletic's Nick Kosmider, who found out about it from receiver Travis Fulgham's former coach. "I was out there in Virginia. I was just chillin'. I had to take my daughter to a doctor’s appointment and I just saw kids out there working hard and grinding and I was reminiscing how I was out there grinding. So I just went up there and gave them a little bit of motivation and went about my way."
A similar story played out Sunday. As Hamler provided energy in drills with dances and passes — he could start training camp on the PUP list, but continues to make terrific progress from ACL surgery and a dislocated hip that required a plate and two screws to fix — Jeudy talked with campers and took pictures. He had a message for them.
"It's hard to get to this level. I tell them if they remain focused and know what they really want in life, they can achieve it," Jeudy said. "That's the biggest thing. Make sure you stay level-headed, stay focused and keep grinding."
Jeudy just as easily could have been talking to himself. At age 23, he has reached a crossroads in his Broncos career. A polished route runner who is better in space than NASA, Jeudy has not lived up to expectations, despite his 90 receptions for 1,323 yards.
There are a confluence of factors of why, including a conservative offense, egregious misuse — no more fake jet sweeps, please — and three red zone targets last season. Jeudy failed to score a touchdown in 2021, and has three for his career, tied for second fewest among the eight receivers drafted in the 2020 first round.
And the offseason did not go as planned. He missed part of OTAs with a strained groin, and was arrested after an argument with the mother of his child involving property. Prosecutors dismissed the tampering charge against Jeudy, which should prevent him from facing NFL discipline.
"I wasn’t really nervous because I knew the situation wasn’t supposed to be what (was) out there. It's a good thing everything was cleared up. It’s behind me. I’m just focused on the future," Jeudy said earlier this month. "Everything turned out well. I don’t want to put myself and the team in a position like that. So, I’m glad everything was handled how it needed to be.”
Healthy and happy, the road is clear for Jeudy to realize his potential. Coach Nathaniel Hackett has implemented a new scheme and nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson has become the face of the franchise. Wilson has repeatedly praised Jeudy over the last few months, and plans to bring the receivers together for a refresher course before training camp.
"Every detail matters with him. You learn a lot, just how hard he works and how focused he is when he’s on the field and on the board. You realize how locked in he his. I’ve learned a lot. He's a great quarterback. I am excited to play with him,” Jeudy said. "I mean it’s going to be very exciting. I feel like we are going to be a very explosive team. I feel like we’ve got all the pieces we needed, so we’ve just gotta put it together. And I am excited that is going to happen.”