Throughout his football recruiting process, Mainland two-way star Jonathan Campbell has asked the typical questions concerning football facilities and where he fits in.
Campbell might also ask questions a college coach is not accustomed to hearing, like, “How’s your bio-engineering program?”
While many players in Campbell’s position are thinking about a career in football — as a player or a coach — the Bucs’ safety/quarterback is also thinking about his life after football.
“I like academic schools,” the senior said. “They’ll be better for my future.”
It’s no surprise that one of his offers has come from Dartmouth, an Ivy League School.
Campbell is not the only standout on the Bucs football team whose classroom focus equals or exceeds his football focus.
Cornerback Kalyb Evans has a 3.9 grade point average and sub 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash.
Wide receiver Nick Antoine may not be as fast as Evans, but he has a 4.4 benchmark of his own. That’s his GPA.
How does one achieve a 4.4 GPA? You just take AP and honors classes and earn an A in every class, he says.
“Classroom is very important,” Antoine said. “We all know that. You can’t do anything without grades. Grades come first, always.”
Running back Isaiah Gordon is committed to play football at Marshall, where he plans to major in finance and business. Gordon has a 4.2 GPA.
Defensive back Jordan Porter, who has a 3.7 GPA, also plans to major in finance.
Left tackle Jake Fassenden, who has a 3.6 GPA, is undecided whether to major in emergency management services or go on to medical school and become a radiologist.
Defensive tackle Isaiah Morrison, who has a 3.7 GPA and has several football scholarship offers, said he wants to major in sports management so when football is over he can still be around the sport.
“It always helps when your best players are the guys who have great academics,” said Mainland coach Travis Roland. “Our best players are our leaders and have been voted to be captains and they’re also high academic guys.
“It makes it really easy to talk about getting good grades when your best players are setting an example. When they see their leaders are having success on the field, getting good grades and getting offers, it’s an easy sell in today’s world.”
It’s all about work ethic, the players say.
“In Daytona we have to work for everything,” Antoine said. “So nothing’s going to be handed to you. If you’ve got good family your family’s going to push you, but you have to push yourself as well. If you want to get somewhere and you don’t want to be stuck here for the rest of your life then you’ve got to work and push yourself. That’s in the classroom and on the football field, whatever you do.”
Roland was a leader himself when he played at Mainland. He helped lead the Bucs to their only state championship in 2003 and he graduated with a 3.73 GPA.
“I definitely had some success as a high school student,” Roland said. “My parents didn’t play when it came to academics. Academics was a must for us in our household.”
Leaning on your teammates is also important, Morrison said.
“I feel we all encourage each other,” he said. “Even if one of us messes up, even if one has something going on, we’re all there for each other. Our chemistry is key for our team because we all grew up together. We all have such a strong love for each other that, say one of us messes up it’s, ‘I still love you. You’re still my brother. Let’s move forward.’ ”