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Las Vegas Bowl Youth Clinic means it’s almost football season

See what Mike Sanford started?

The long-since-relieved-of-his-duties UNLV football coach is mostly remembered for complaining about the condition of the Sam Boyd Stadium locker rooms during his parting shot from Las Vegas, and for failing to leave the field at Iowa State after what in his mind was a controversial defeat.

But also give credit to Sanford for having the philanthropy to start the Las Vegas Bowl Youth Football Clinic hosted by UNLV.

Now in its ninth year, the free clinic was Thursday at the Wildcat Morris Rebel Park practice fields. It has become the unofficial harbinger of football season. Whereas only 50 kids showed up for the initial camp when Sanford was coach, this year’s edition “sold” out, attracting more than 500.

UNLV coach Tony Sanchez and his players tutored the youngsters on the finer points of the game, and some not so fine. It may have been mentioned that last year’s 42-21 loss to UCLA was closer than expected, and maybe the kids might want to bring their parents to a game or two this season.

The heat on the Ernie Becker Sr. fields was set to “11,” but the kids didn’t seem to mind. There was free lunch at the end of the day, and before that, there also was “Family Feud” in the auditorium at the Lied Athletic Complex.

Last year a man from the fire department spoke to the kids about how important it is to stay hydrated during days such as Thursday. Based on the shrieks of the contestants who wore camp T-shirts and receiving gloves, “Family Feud” was much more popular.

I was told that when Sanchez goes searching for volunteers to interact with the kids, Darren Woods Jr. always is first to raise his hand. Sure enough, when the football kids adjourned to the auditorium to play “Family Feud,” the starting wide receiver from Missouri City, Texas, was in the middle of it, reprising the role of Steve Harvey.

“I like to volunteer because I just like working with the kids,” said Woods, who was the Rebels’ second-leading pass catcher when he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Fresno State last season. “I have a little brother myself, and being away from him, I feel like if I can help out in my community now, and give (the kids) a minute to be in my shoes, hopefully one day they will have the same opportunity I have.”

After the kids sought hydration at the water fountain, they went back on the practice fields and another group took their place. The survey question “Name the guy responsible for starting the Las Vegas Bowl Youth Football Clinic” never came up.

But if it had and you answered “Mike Sanford,” you might have been given the home version of the game as a lovely parting gift.

0:03

— Three years ago when writing about local Eric Meeks’ experience in playing in the Masters, his father, Bob, mentioned there was another up-and-coming golfer in the Meeks family. This would have been Cameron Meeks, now 18 and the low qualifier in the Southern California section for the U.S. Junior Amateur at Flint Hills National Golf Club this week in Andover, Kansas. Cameron Meeks is a recent honors graduate of Palo Verde High who will be attending Loyola Marymount on a full golf scholarship. His dad won the 1988 U.S. Amateur, and grandpa Bob played in the 1995 U.S. Senior Amateur.

— Palo Verde High’s Brandon Kintzler pitched a perfect inning of relief in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, during which he represented the Minnesota Twins. This was a sweet memory for his father, Rick, who raised Brandon as a single parent. Rick Kintzler also attached to an email photos of Brandon hanging out with his son, Knox, during All-Star festivities, which were even sweeter.

— There’s an unusual story about how Jordan Davis of Canyon Springs High, by way of Northern Colorado, became a combo guard for Azerbaijan’s U20 national team on si.com, Sports Illustrated’s website. “The only foreign thing about him is a tattoo of King Tut on his right arm,” writes Luke Winn about FIBA rules that allow countries to suit up one naturalized dual citizen per competition.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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