VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Falcons running back Devonta Freeman was as pleasant a surprise as any in the NFL last season, earning a Pro Bowl berth in just his second pro season.
This weekend, Freeman was miles away from the Georgia Dome, acting as a guest coach at Telvin Smith's Youth Day in Valdosta.
"The thing I like about camps like this is letting the kids know right away there's always going to be kids bigger than you, faster than you, stronger than you," Freeman says. "If you compete and work hard, that won't matter."
The former Florida State Seminole made the jump between his rookie and sophomore seasons in Atlanta- rushing for over 1056 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The 24 year old says staying true to himself and his game allowed him to break out.
"Me and my coach call it just be free," Freeman explains. "He coaches me up so hard during the week, and at the end of the day I just go be free."
Freeman says he was confident he had the ability to put on a performance like he did a season ago. Now his challenge is sustaining that level and doing even more.
"Everybody can do it once," he says. "The great ones can do it multiple times, the same way over and over and over. That's what I'm after."
If Freeman can repeat his 2015 form this season, it may be just what the Falcons need to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2013.
Atlanta opens the regular season September 11 when they host NFC South foe Tampa Bay.