Gators to Eastside: Stay in school

University of Florida football player and former Eastside High student Darryon Robinson Jr. signs an autograph for Jerrod Owens as Jasmine Wade tries to take a picture of Robinson with her cell phone on Monday at the high school.

AARON DAYE/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 22, 2007 at 11:51 p.m.

Roars of excitement and Gator chomps were the predominant features at Eastside High School Monday afternoon.

Three University of Florida football players talked to Eastside freshmen about the importance of school.

"It starts here," said Darryon Robinson Jr., a Gator linebacker. "Go to school. Raise your test scores. Have big dreams and you can make it."

Robinson and Lutrell Alford, a Gator defensive lineman, are both Eastside High graduates.

"Both of us came out of Gainesville," Alford said. "We had a lot of adversity. People told us we couldn't do a lot coming out of Eastside. Hopefully we proved them wrong."

Tate Casey, starting tight end for the Gators, was late to the assembly because he was in class.

He told students even the national champions in football are required to attend class. He also said they won't get their championship rings unless they maintain at least a 2.0 grade-point average.

Shirley Feagin, a biology teacher at the school, asked the football players to speak to the students.

"I felt they could really get through to the students. They are very impressionable," she said. "They are young men that have been through high school. They were very successful in college. And I felt that they could be spokesmen for education."

Students asked questions during the assembly ranging from, "Who is the fastest player on the football team?" to, "Who do you think will win the Super Bowl?"

Afterward, students had opportunities to take pictures with the players.

Chris Singleton, a freshman at Eastside, enjoyed the assembly. "I like the way (the players) focus on education first and sports second," he said.

Feagin said she hopes the players motivate students to try harder.

"I want these students to see, yes, you can succeed. Yes, you can graduate. Yes, you can attend college. Yes, you can get your degree. And if you are in sports, I don't care if it is football, basketball, or whatever, you can be successful," she said.

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