RIVERDALE — Terry Herrod is a classroom teacher first, and the Riverdale football coach second.
And for that reason, he has been impressed with his senior class from an academic standpoint.
The first-year head coach will have about 10 seniors sign college scholarships on National Signing Day in February because of their athletic prowess.
But the coach is more impressed that they will be academically eligible as incoming college freshmen.
“It’s impressive,” he said Friday afternoon via cellphone. “It is a testament to their families and parents that they have put academics first. It shows the caliber of education they are receiving here at Riverdale High.”
Herrod has been around sports long enough to know that academics for some athletes get put on the backburner.
It the last 26 years as a sports writer, I’ve seen my share of can’t miss college prospect miss because of poor academic showing. But this senior class at Riverdale is writing their own ticket to a free college education.
“When college coaches come in to see their transcripts, they are impressed,” Herrod said.
Eight of the 10 Riverdale rising seniors have a 3.0 grade-point average or above, and have meant the standard test scores under NCAA rules to be eligible as freshman.
“The academics are the least of my worries,” Herrod said. “Their families have been a driving force in making sure all that has been taken care of.”
The academic and athletic combination seems to be working perfectly for Herrod’s group. Herrod can spend less time worrying can a player make it to college once he and his staff have put in the work to get them notice.
So far, two players have made their college commitment.
Wide receiver Rashad Canty has chosen Appalachian State and recently Chinedu Okonya picked Furman. Two more Riverdale players have offers, and appear close to making their decision.
“We have some incredibly intelligent young men,” Herrod said. “Their families are doing a good job.”
Herrod is hoping the example that this senior class is setting in the classroom will filter to the underclassmen. The coach has already identified several underclassmen, including a couple freshmen, that could have a college football future.
“These guys are our role models,” Herrod said. “I’m hoping these underclassmen see the work these guys have done in the classroom, and do the same. It makes it so much easier to get them notice by college coaches.”
And helps a high school coach limit some worries.
Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily/Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? Follow him @DerrickMahone_