Jets tight ends coach/assistant offensive line Mike Devlin, who hosted offseason football camps at the College of New Jersey and in Shamokin, Pa., and Mount Sinai, N.Y., over the past month, has earned the moniker bestowed upon him by special teams assistant Ben Kotwica.
“Coach Devlin is definitely the Camp King. This is our time off — decompression time — before the season really begins,” Kotwica said recently of his colleague and friend. “But Coach Devlin leads the kids and the coaches and the community. Bringing everyone all together is a tribute to him and his family.”
In May, Devlin hosted Techniques in the Trenches in Ewing, N.J., for high schoolers as linemen were taught stance, footwork, pulling, combo blocks, pass blocking, down blocks and reach blocks. Then on June 18, Devlin moved on to Shamokin Area Middle/High School in Pennsylvania for a non-contact camp for 1st-9th graders. Over three days, youngsters were schooled in agility, blocking, passing, running, receiving and defensive skills. And last week’s camp at Mount Sinai HS on Long Island mirrored the setup in Pennsylvania.
“I do it here in Mount Sinai because this is where my family is, so I reach out to the community here,” Devlin explained. “I do it in New Jersey because I’m in New Jersey half the time, so I have that connection there. I do it in Pennsylvania because that’s where my father was [John Devlin was a 40-year coaching veteran who worked on every level] and there are a lot of needy kids there. Wherever we can go, if we think we can help in the community and there are kids who want to learn, then that’s where we’ll go. We’ll go anywhere.”
Devlin doesn’t travel alone. He was joined at Mount Sinai by not only Kotwica but also Jets assistants Brian Smith, Lance Taylor and Andy Dickerson.
“This is a great day for football,” Kotwica said last week. “We have over 100 kids at Coach Devlin’s camp, a tremendous turnout. Kids are getting the opportunity to get lessons on leadership and teamwork. They find out what hard work is all about and learn some football skills while they’re at it. We work on the offensive and defensive sides, and I even got some time with special teams.”
Four years ago, Devlin kicked around the idea of affordable camps with Jeff Koutsantanou and the rest is history.
“I can’t say enough about Coach Devlin,” said Koutsantanou, who serves as the camp’s executive director. “What he tries to do with the camp is phenomenal. He is a great person and a great friend.
“Mike is one of the best role models I know. He is great with the kids and puts a lot of time in. He goes out here and gets right in to the mix with the kids, so it’s great.”
Through the camps, Devlin is able to support local youth and high school programs and various charitable organizations. He has been able to help many over the past few years including Friends of Karen, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and March of Dimes. And it’s been a win-win for everyone as children continue to benefit from Devlin and the Jets coaches.
“I think we all do what we do because we love this game. Hopefully we can get some kids away from video machines and get them playing football, fall in love with the sport,” Devlin said. “I hope they learn a lot of good lessons. Each one of these coaches will speak about his story. Coach Kotwica was an Apache helicopter commander and Lance Taylor was a walk-on at Alabama. Everyone has a story and if one of those can inspire a kid to be better and to have success in whatever they want to do, it’s very rewarding for all of us.”
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