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Jean-Bart, GSU stayed faithful

Photo by Derrick Mahone
Jonathan Jean-Bart tries on his Georgia State University cap after announcing he will sign  a scholarship with the school. Jean-Bart, who had a season-ending knee injury against Stockbridge this season, will start rehab work in a couple weeks.

Photo by Derrick Mahone Jonathan Jean-Bart tries on his Georgia State University cap after announcing he will sign a scholarship with the school. Jean-Bart, who had a season-ending knee injury against Stockbridge this season, will start rehab work in a couple weeks.

When Jonathan Jean-Bart went down with a season-ending knee injury five games into the 2011 season, he was faced with some uncertainty about his future.

It was the first time in his career that the Henry County High running back suffered a major injury in his career.

Although he had committed to play at Georgia State prior to the start of the season, he wasn’t sure if the second-year FCS program would still honor its offer. But Jean-Bart’s fears were quickly calmed when the GSU staff told him that the school’s offer was still good.

Wednesday, Jean-Bart’s dreams of playing college football moved closer to reality when he received the scholarship paperwork from Georgia State. The senior signed the letter-of-intent in the Henry County High media center as he was surrounded by teammates, classmates and family.

“I’m very happy to see this day,” Jean-Bart said in between posing for pictures. “Words can’t explain how I feel right now. At first, I was worried about what was going to happen. Then, I said what was for me will come to me.”

He had surgery in November and has been going through rehab about four times a week. Jean-Bart hopes to start running in the next couple of weeks.

He has a goal.

“I want to play in 2012,” Jean-Bart said. “I’m working hard to get strong. I want to be a Panther.”

Outgoing Henry County coach Mike Rozier said he believes that Jean-Bart can be an impact player for Georgia State, which competes in the Colonial Athletic Association, which is regarded as the top FCS conference in the nation.

Before his injury, Jean-Bart had rushed for 536 yards.

“You can look at him and see that he is doing the work to get better,” Rozier said. “He will come back stronger.”

If not for the injury, Jean-Bart might have received some FBS offers, according to Rozier.

The coach also commended Georgia State for sticking by Jean-Bart after his injury.

“(Georgia State)Coach (Bill) Curry is a man of tremendous character,” Rozier said. “Jonathan committed to them in June, and they never wavered from him one minute.”

Jean-Bart will likely take a grayshirt this season, and will count against the school’s scholarships in 2013. The running back is looking to get back on the field and redshirt this season.

Regardless of which scenario happens, Jean-Bart is happy to see that he will soon be a college football player.

“After the injury, I never thought ‘what if,’ ” he said. “I’m a Christian and I had faith that I would play college football. I never doubted myself. I’m happy about going to GSU because they are building a good foundation, and I want to be a part of that.”