Freshman safety named 2011 High School Scholar-Athlete
Dec. 1, 2011
by Chris Weinman
The college football world is buzzing about who might be invited to New York later this month for a nationally recognized award ceremony.
Vanderbilt freshman Josh Gregory is getting a jump on the action, heading to the Big Apple a week ahead of those Heisman Trophy festivities to accept his own prestigious award.
Gregory, a reserve safety for the Commodore football team, is one of five student-athletes who will be honored as a 2011 National Football Foundation High School Scholar-Athlete at the NFF's 2011 Chapter Awards Luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Dec. 6.
The five high school scholar-athletes were chosen from the pool of 400,000 high school football players covered by the NFF Chapter Network as the best in the nation for their combined athletic, academic and leadership skills. The luncheon is a part of the 2011 College Football Hall of Fame weekend in NYC.
A native of Goodlettsville, Tenn., Gregory completed an impressive career at Davidson Academy last spring. On the football field, he was a First Team All-Division II-A selection as a defensive back for the Bears. In the classroom, Gregory graduated summa cum laude with a 4.36 grade point average.
"Josh was an emotional leader for us on the field and a peer-elected team captain," Davidson Academy Head Coach Bill Alexander said in his nomination of Gregory. "His work ethic was a key factor to his success."
While his football resume is impressive, Gregory's accomplishments off the field are even more outstanding. President of his senior class, Gregory won the Admiral Lawrence Award as the top football scholar-athlete in Middle Tennessee. He also participated in numerous community service projects including aiding with Nashville flood relief in 2010 and taking multiple mission trips to Matamoros, Mexico. Gregory's bio on the NFF site
Now at Vanderbilt, Gregory doesn't have any plans to slow down. He hit the ground running this summer, joining the football team as a walk-on prior to fall camp. Gregory splits his day between football--where he plays free safety primarily on the defensive scout team--and school work.
"There's not much time to do anything other than school and football," Gregory said. "I like football a lot. As long as I'm doing something I like, it's not that big of a deal to put in this much time."
Despite earning 18 college credits from his AP (advanced placement) work in high school, Gregory plans to take 32 hours in his freshman year. As winter break approached, the 2011 Davidson Academy valedictorian wasn't sure he'd get all "A's" this semester. But his focus is no longer on perfect marks, but rather retaining knowledge he'll need in the future.
"I know I'll do the best I can," Gregory said. "I'm not going to freak out if I get an A-minus or a B. In high school it was about getting the best grades so you'd get recognized for college, but now this is stuff I need to learn because it's what I have to know."
While he has not declared his course of study, Gregory is considering a double-major that includes classics. He took five years of Latin in high school and has enjoyed a Greek history class this fall.
While the coverage of Tuesday's NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon won't equal the media circus surrounding next Saturday's Heisman presentation, Gregory is fine with the limited attention he has received.
"Coach Franklin brought it up in a team meeting one day, so that was pretty cool," Gregory said. "It's just a huge honor to win something like this. And originally I didn't even know about the huge trip to New York."
ABOUT THE NFF HIGH SCHOOL SCHOLAR-ATHLETE AWARD
First bestowed in 1991, the NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete Awards have become one of the most prestigious and competitive high school academic honors in the country.
With 120 outposts and more than 12,000 members, the NFF Chapter Network covers more than 4,800 high schools and 400,000 student-athletes in 47 states, annually analyzing the credentials of the top student-athletes from their respective communities. Criteria for the award include but are not limited to academic achievement, athletic accomplishments and community leadership. The chapters subsequently recognize approximately 3,300 of the best scholar-athletes at their local awards banquets, distributing more than $1 million in scholarships.
From this pool of 3,300 scholar-athletes, each chapter is allowed to nominate one candidate, creating a group of finalists for national consideration. A national committee then reviews the finalists, selecting five winners, one from each region of the country. Each of the five recipients travels to New York City where they are honored each December during the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon at the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Although college freshman at the time of being honored, the honorees are solely recognized for accomplishments during their high school careers.