By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
Dominique Zeigler could always see himself coaching at his alma mater.
"My ultimate dream is to be the head coach at Harker Heights one day. ... I always looked up to (former Knights) coach (Ross) Rogers," Zeigler said Saturday.
Now that the ex-Heights standout has officially hung up his cleats, after four separate knee injuries curtailed his NFL dreams, Zeigler got a jump- start on the next stage of his life this weekend at the third annual Cen-Tex Pro Football Camp and Combine held at Leo Buckley Stadium.
"Being out here just lets you know you can still show the things that you've learned and just try to give back to the community," said Zeigler, who walked away from football this winter after being released by the San Franscico 49ers in September. "Not only to the kids (with regard) to football knowledge, but also ... trying to teach them to become a better person."
Despite giving the NFL one more shot before last season, the former Baylor wideout was never able to recover from a devastating injury to the
anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee he suffered late in the 2010 season.
Zeigler plans to finish up the final 28 hours on his speech communications degree at Baylor before pursuing several coaching opportunities available to him, including potentially working under former 49ers receivers coach Jerry Sullivan in Jacksonville.
"Anytime you get to share what you've learned that, even though you might not be out there doing it, you've learned so much throughout the years, you can only give back," Zeigler said.
"Being able to teach the kids, and for them to come back on Day 2 and show you what they learned from Day 1 is always a positive."
Among the area pros-turned-coaches joining Zeigler were former Killeen receiver Juaquin Iglesias (Houston Texans), ex-Shoemaker and Texas standout Roy Miller (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and Ellison's own Texas Sports Hall of Famer in defensive tackle Tommie Harris. Also in attendance were Indianapolis receiver Quan Cosby and Miller's fellow Bucs defensive tackle Frank Okam, as well as former Shoemaker and Purdue receiver Keith Smith, who is in the process of trying to secure a job with the Atlanta Falcons next week.
"It's lovely being here — it's the first time I've been in Leo Buckley in 4½ years — so it's nice seeing everyone and helping out the little kids," Smith said. "Because when we were growing up, we didn't have this."
One of those who is hoping the camp experience will help him sooner rather than later is Ellison junior receiver Hayward Clay, who is expecting to see action on varsity this season. Clay posted the fastest 40-meter dash time at 4.6 seconds.
"I feel like I've improved a lot more since last year, coming out here knowing where I'm at," Clay said. "It felt good knowing where I'm at, school-wise, that I'm faster than (players from) Heights and Shoemaker."
For the second consecutive year, the two-day camp brought out more than 250 children from throughout Central Texas, along with nearly 100 volunteer coaches and helpers from the area.
"Just to see that kind of support, that's what all this is about. It's not about the NFL — of course we (pros) bring people here — but that's what we want to see," Miller said. "We want to see community."
Part of that community involvement was also evident in the next generation of Killeen-area talent with Harker Heights senior and University of Texas greyshirt commit Naashon Hughes helping coach.
"Most of these kids (at the camp) are better than I was when I was 12-years-old, so I think there is a lot of potential here," said the 17-year-old Hughes. "Starting at this young age, you're starting a foundation and build from there."
For Miller, that's the sole reason he and the other professional players started the camp three years ago, to create a sense of community and help it foster into something greater.
"It feels real good to see them coming back, that's just what we want. We want to bring everybody together, ... because we want this to continue," Miller said. "We'll only be in the NFL so long, we'll only be playing ball so long, we want this to be a long-lasting deal where these (younger) guys will come back in the future and do the same things that we're doing."