Only the young campers at the William and Mary Colonial All-Pro Football Camp were not pensively waiting for his arrival.
Sure, they knew San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson was visiting June 23, an overcast day that brightened up with the Pro Bowl running back’s appearance. But they couldn’t afford to look over as they were put through the paces by the College coaching staff and players.
But the spectators, reporters, coaches and even the players were a different story.
Donna Crinklaw and Dennis Kiser stood on the sideline holding a Texas Christian University banner, hoping to get graduate Tomlinson’s attention.
“I know he’s a really great role model,” Crinklaw, an alumna of TCU, said of Tomlinson. “He gives back to the community, he’s very involved — he’s just a good guy. I wouldn’t just come out for anybody.”
Crinklaw and Kiser, her husband, were hoping to get a picture with Tomlinson for Crinklaw’s middle school classroom. They watched on the sidelines as Tomlinson wandered around the camp, alternating between talking to campers and giving out handoffs.
“It feels great,” Tomlinson said. “I’m very familiar with camps — I have my own camp in Texas — and I think there are so many kids who really enjoy playing football and if we can help them, teach them something and motivate them, then one day they’re going to return and do the same thing.”
Tomlinson spent most of his time with the media answering questions about his health and future with the Chargers after experiencing a groin injury last season that limited him to 1,110 yards and 11 touchdowns, the lowest totals since Tomlinson’s rookie season.
“My health is good,” Tomlinson said. “I’ve worked out all offseason. I haven’t had any setbacks. I’ve been strong at practice and everything so I’m looking forward to having a good year.”
One of the reasons for Tomlinson’s improved health this season, and throughout his career, has been his work with personal trainer Todd Durkin ’93, a former quarterback at the College.
“Todd has helped me achieve some of my greatest dreams in the NFL game,” Tomlinson said. “Obviously he’s told me a lot about William and Mary.”
Head Coach Jimmye Laycock joked that Durkin had better speak well of the College, causing Tomlinson to smile.
“Oh man, he brags so much about the school and obviously he took pride in being a quarterback,” Tomlinson said. “He sure let me know all the time that he was from William and Mary, and about [Darren] Sharper [’97].”
After the media session wrapped up, Tomlinson headed outside the Laycock Center where a small contingent of fans sought autographs. Among them was redshirt freshman cornerback B.W. Webb ’12, who had Tomlinson sign a football.
For Tomlinson, who signed everything put in front of him — including Webb’s football — it was all in a day’s work.