STAMFORD -- Will Poole played in the Rose Bowl and then the NFL, so if anyone knows about living the football dream, it's the former USC and Miami Dolphins defensive back.

These days, Poole spends most of his time training and coaching the next generation of gridiron greats, and Saturday at Stamford High's Boyle Stadium he had a simple message for the 100-plus young players that turned out for the 2013 Marcus Dixon McInerney football camp.

"Growing up in Queens (N.Y.) I never expected to get to the level I did," said Poole, who proudly wore his 2004 Rose Bowl championship ring. "But if you can dream it, it can happen."

It was a full day of football for the dozens of campers, all of whom ranged from grades six through nine.

Leading the way was first-year Stamford High coach Jamar Greene, who hopes to turn the event into an annual tradition.

"This is a great way to start," said Greene, whose Black Knights will open camp in eight days in preparation for their season-opener against Fairfield Prep on Sept. 12. "We've got a very tough schedule, and a lot to put in in not a lot of time but I'm excited to get going."

Greene was joined by 10 of his varsity players and a few big-name Stamford alumni like Alex Joseph, who starred at Temple before stints with the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.

One camper hoping to follow in big brother's footsteps is 14-year-old Ben Joseph.

"Alex talks to me a lot about hard work," Joseph said. "He's been an inspiration, and I've learned a lot from him and in these drills today. But it is pretty hot."

The camp featured Blue Streak Sports Training stretch and conditioning sessions, defensive and offensive stations, and more personalized position drills.

Poole knew just what he was going to tell the defenders.

"Be the hammer and not the nail," Poole said. "I can work with kids like these every day, it's very rewarding. I love to see them go make a big play... like an interception and take it to the house."

There would be plenty of time for big plays as the event featured 7-on-7s -- as well as the always popular big man competition.

"I picked up on some things already," said Cameron Kelly, 15, who will play for Brunswick in the fall. "I'm hoping to have a bright future on and off the field."

So to does 14-year-old Sam Colandro, whose brother Frankie was a captain on the 2012 Stamford team.

It was a family affair for the Colandros, as Sam participated, Frankie coached and father Frank looked on from the stands.

"They've taught me so much about this sport," Sam Colandro said. "We're all excited about joining the program under coach Greene. Today the one thing I've really taken away is technique. You can't be good without it."

The camp is named in memory of former Black Knights star and West Point cadet Marcus Dixon McInerney, who died last year after fatally shooting himself, pulling the trigger of a pistol he pointed at his head to show friends it was supposed to be safe.

The McInerney family was on hand Saturday and picked up the lunch tab for all campers, while the Stamford Youth Foundation and Stamford football program also helped sponsor the event.

"We were pretty lucky in terms of the weather," Greene said. "This was a good day all-around. A lot of people helped out and we plan on doing this again next year in memory of Marcus."