Well, except for senior defensive end Jammie Kirlew.
The second-team All-Big Ten performer was recognized at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 as a member of the Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.
The honor, given to student-athletes for their extraordinary efforts off the field, was presented to 22 players out of the record 106 originally nominated.
He is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and recently graduated with a double major in management and public financial management from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Kirlew is also an active member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program and has volunteered in the past at the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington.
In addition, he studied abroad in Italy during the summer of 2006 and worked with President Obama’s campaign in 2008 by registering voters.
IU junior wide receiver Terrance Turner said Kirlew is a guy who “everyone looked up to.”
“That would be the first guy I give it to,” Turner said of the award. “He is someone who can be the face of a program. He lets everyone know what a true college athlete should be in and out of the classroom and on and off the field.”
Former IU running back Bryan Payton echoed Turner’s sentiments.
“He was a guy that was really essential to the maturity of the team,” Payton said. “He is always going to be looking out for others, and I have no doubt in my mind he is going to be successful in football and whatever he wants to do afterwards.”
In addition to being honored at halftime of the Bowl Championship Series game in New Orleans, the award recipients took time to help in the community.
The day before the Sugar Bowl, the players woke up early to visit Andrew H. Wilson elementary school, which has been closed since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Kirlew and his teammates helped clean and prepare the school, which is set to reopen later this month.
“The greatest thing is we knew we were doing good,” Kirlew said of his experience at the elementary school. “This school was going to open and there was a lot they needed to do. It is definitely something that we will remember for the rest of our lives.”
Later that day, the players attended the Allstate Fan Fest, where they were recognized for their efforts on stage before a Lady Antebellum concert.
That night, some of the players watched New Years fireworks on the waterfront.
“We all had a great time,” Kirlew said. “To have a lot of good guys together, doing good things, it was really motivational.”
But while his time at IU is complete, his football career is anything but finished.
Kirlew will participate in the Pro Football Hall of Fame “Texas vs. Nation Challenge” on Feb. 6. He is also preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine in February and the NFL Draft in April.
He is currently at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., where he works on agility training, weight training and his specific position on the defensive line. Kirlew is also being taught how to improve his mental conditioning, nutrition, vision and preparation for the media.
“The whole program is just amazing,” he said. “The goal by them is to make sure you are not surprised by anything you might see. I think they are doing a phenomenal job.”
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