MINNEAPOLIS – A young Vikings fan wearing a purple No. 18 jersey stutter-stepped before running a deep route, leaping and twisting in the air, and making the catch before landing in the grass.
"That's what I'm talking about!" Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson yelled toward the third grader. "Now let's see that Griddy!"
The boy obliged, dropping the football and exchanging laughs with Jefferson as he broke into the celebratory dance.
It's fair to say that just about every young person had practiced The Griddy more than a few times prior to attending Jefferson's youth football camp Saturday night.
Hosted by Hard Count Athletics, the camp took place at DeLaSalle High School and welcomed boys and girls from first grade through 10th.
"It's so great. Just to be around these kids, having my first camp in Minnesota, it's so fantastic," Jefferson told Vikings.com.
Though the receiver is entering his third NFL season, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed any in-person camps until this summer.
"It's perfect timing," beamed Justin on the sunny, 82-degree evening.
The camp featured a unique segment earlier in the afternoon, where those who purchased VIP tickets were able to take individual photos with Jefferson and receive his autograph in the school's gymnasium. Everyone then gathered for the outdoor event from 5-8 p.m. (CT).
Young people were broken up into age groups and had the opportunity to cycle through a variety of football drills, guided by coaches. Jefferson started by playing quarterback for the route-running station before transitioning to receiver at the defensive back station, where campers worked to contest catches.
Most of the youngsters were decked out in Vikings jerseys – including numerous 18s, of course – or some type of purple-and-gold attire, and some wore receiving gloves or purple cleats. Also spotted were two young men with haircuts just for the occasion: one had an 18 and a Viking horn styled into his hair, while the other had Jefferson's initials.
"It's so crazy how much they [look up to] me and how much they really pay attention to what I have going on," Jefferson said. "It's so great to be around them and see them Griddy-ing.
"You see me dripping and sweating right now," he added with a laugh. "They're showing me up a little bit."
Tre Brooks, a lifelong Vikings fan, watched proudly from the bleachers as his 7- and 12-year-old sons ran through the drills and had the opportunity to catch passes from Jefferson.
"I love Justin. He's the baddest wide receiver in the NFL – by far," Brooks said.
"The happiness on their faces just shows how much they love it. They love Justin, too," Brooks added. "This means the world to them. To have seen Justin on TV and now to meet him in-person, do The Griddy and interact with him? This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Surveying the different groups during a water break, Jefferson said he appreciated the young ladies who had signed up for the camp.
"It's for all kids. Girls have dreams of playing football, too," he said. "It's a new day in age. It's 2022, you know? You're able to do anything you want.
"Being able to have girls out here competing with the boys, it shows how much confidence they really have," Jefferson added. "This is a great night."