By Doug Gorman
They block, jump, run fast and throw hard.
They also never forget they're students first, taking care of business in the classroom with high grade-point averages and lofty academic achievements.
In a sports-crazed society, obsessed with high scoring averages and winning percentages, success in the classroom can tend to be overlooked.
The Clayton County School System made sure that didn't happen, honoring the academic-minded student athletes with their own banquet Thursday night at Mt. Zion High School.
This year's group of student athletes were first nominated by their individual schools, then recognized for their work in the classroom.
Nominations came from the principal, athletic director, and coaches from each high school.
In addition to having high grade point averages, each student athlete was judged on character and giving back to the community.
"Having something like this means Clayton County has a lot of good things going for it," Clayton County athletic director Bob Brannon said. "These are all exceptional students. These students come from great families, and we see what they bring to the table."
The 41 students honored last night included:
From Forest Park, Jamarian Brantley (track 3.4), Jarbaren Terrell (baseball 3.2), Regginald Lewis (football 3.3), Song Ha Nguyen (tennis 3.9) and Tia Battle (golf 3.2).
From Jonesboro, Antonio Allen (baseball: 3.6 GPA), Frederick Mathis (football: 3.74), Jordan Brown (basketball 3.8). Stacy Ramdeem (golf 3.8), Sharmesia Smith (basketball 3.9).
From Lovejoy, Ryan Freeman (football 4.1), Morgan Powell (softball 3.8), Kimberly Brooke-Bowan (cheerleading 3.62), George Adams (golf 3.73) and Chinedu Ekuocha (soccer 4.0).
From Mt. Zion, Alexis Griffin (softball 3.8), Alycia Prior (track 3.7), Chanse Wooden (basketball 3.8), Jasmine Thornton (track 3.6), and Jhaquil Richadson (track 3.7).
From Mundy's Mill, Dominique Graves (track 3.7), Iesha Brown (basketball 3.9), Isaiah Trotman (swimming 3.7), Kenneatric Shaw (cheerleading (3.7), Kimario McFadden (football 3.76).
From Morrow, Chatil Bradford (basketball 4.0), Shani Chandler (track 3.7), Darran Carmichael (wrestling 3.8) Michael Tyson (basketball 3.8) andHoung Tran (swimming 4.0).
From North Clayton, Antwuan Murphy (basketball 3.8), Ariana Daniels (softball 3.7), Brionna June( volleyball 3.4), Christal Senkamphong (soccer 4.0), William Jordan (football 3.5), Zachary Bradley (3.59).
From Riverdale J'Nal Stephens(cheerleading 3.8), Janel Osborne (basketball 3.9), Lauren Langhorne (cheerleading 3.7), Mai Tran Le (tennis 3.9) and Osaret Legemah (football 3.9).
It was also a day for former Clayton County athletes who are now playing in the NFL to give back to the community by attending the banquet.
Lovejoy graduate Tashard Choice (Dallas Cowboys), North Clayton's D.J. Shockley (Atlanta Falcons), Jonesboro's Harry Douglas (Atlanta Falcons), and Jonesboro's Darrell Robertson (New England Patriots) were all at the banquet to lend support to this year's group of scholar athletes.
For Douglas, who just completed his rookie year with the Falcons, academics always came first. Douglas graduated with a degree in political science and has designs on being a lawyer once his playing days are over. His brother, Toney, who is the point guard on the Florida State basketball team, already has his degree in Sociology.
"This is a great thing," Douglas said. "I think these days, academics are kind of getting lost in the shuffle. "It's great to be here with the kids. It's a chance for me to thank them, being a previous student athlete and seeing these kids represent the county is special."
Robertson, who was a standout football player at Georgia Tech, just finished his first year with the New England Patriots.
Robertson knows the importance of juggling academics with playing major college football.
"It's really an adventure at first," Robertson said "You don't want to pay more attention to one over the other at first, then you learn to balance everything. It takes discipline."