Texas Football: 2007 December graduation
One day after celebrating their football accomplishments at the team banquet in the Frank Erwin Center, the Texas football seniors returned to the arena on a different stage to celebrate their academic accomplishments by walking at the 2007 December commencement ceremonies on Saturday.
Those who made the walk included Jaime Carvajal, Brandon Foster, Marcus Griffin, Erick Jackson, Nate Jones, Drew Kelson, Robert Killebrew, Derek Lokey, Thomas Marshall, Ryan Moench, Justin Moore, Frank Okam, Limas Sweed, Freddy Torres and Gilbert Zepeda.
"It's great, because we were all brought together for school and football at The University of Texas," Foster said. "For us to go out there and play football every Saturday, but then take care of our academics, it's great for us to go out here together and get our diplomas."
"It's another stepping stone in life," Sweed followed. "It's one of those things people really work towards. I've got a lot of family members coming down and I have a lot of younger ones that really look up to me. I think it's a positive thing from a family standpoint to show them that you can go to college and graduate and be an athlete. I think it's a great day for a lot of things."
Four of the graduates had an especially quick turnaround from the day they arrived at Texas. Jones, Kelson, Lokey and Okam all completed their coursework in just three and a half years.
"It really has all come together," Jones said. "Football went pretty well for me this year and it puts the icing on the cake to get my degree to finish the year. Like coach Brown says, `Academics first,' and to do it in three and a half years I think is a major accomplishment. For me, this past semester, I took 22 hours to get it completed. I think I handled pretty well and just came out and got my degree from The University of Texas."
The day is one that is as meaningful to the graduates' families as it is to the graduates, if not more so. For Jones' mother, Sheryl, it was the fruition of plans she and her son made long ago.
"It's phenomenal to know that he's done what his dream was," said Sheryl Jones. "This was the plan for us -- do it in three and a half years -- and he's completed it. He's foreseen everything the way he wanted it to be, and we kind of predicted it and laid it out for him. When we came here, we prepared things the way we wanted them to go, and so far, it's all fallen that way."
It is also a day that can bring families together, even across great distance. Although his NFL obligations kept Michael Griffin in Tennessee, the Griffins had no shortage of family arrive in Austin for Marcus.
"All of my family came down that could come down," Marcus Griffin said. "I was really happy for my dad's mother to come because she came all the way from Virginia. She came to my high school graduation and now she's come to my college graduation. For my brother, he can't make it, but I'm going to visit him tomorrow, so that will be a good deal."
In the end, even with one game left for the 2007 seniors, the December commencement ceremonies represented the completion of the academic careers of one of the most successful classes in UT history.
"It's pretty cool, because we all talked about it when we first came in," Sweed said. "We said we were all going to come in together and leave together. For the most part, we did, so it's a great thing."