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February 10, 2012Known for his prolific football career this week J.K. Schaffer earned recognition for his dominance elsewhere.
Entering college few football players take the "student-athlete" moniker seriously. A road to professional football is all it is. Why would a dumb thing like graduating or spitting out A's matter if you are destined for millions of NFL dollars?
Wiser than these misguided minds Schaffer committed deeply to tackling both books and (running) backs.
In so doing J.K. Schaffer has been has been chosen as the 2011 American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The selection was made by the conference's Academic Affairs Committee and is presented on the basis of academic credentials and athletic performance.
A senior from Cincinnati, Ohio, Schaffer will receive a $2,000 scholarship, which may be applied to graduate or professional studies.
In addition to his on-field accomplishments, Schaffer carries a 3.705 grade-point average as a criminal justice major. He is a member of the Sigma Sigma honorary fraternity and a four-time selection to the BIG EAST All-Academic Team. Schaffer earned a 4.00 grade-point average in the fall 2011 semester.
Though he graduates with a Criminal Justice major, Schaffer did not enter school the same way.
"My freshman year I was a Health Promotions major and switched my sophomore year to Psychology," said Schaffer. "Basic psych classes, psych stats classes. Childhood development, behavior."
He entered his senior year as a Psych major with criminal justice minor, but scheduling conflicts forced him to swap the two.
Applications of academic work
Entering the 2011 season J.K. Schaffer talked with BearcatReport.com about a crossover moment between his academic work and football preparation.
"I had a class this last quarter that was Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships," reflected Schaffer. "We had to do an application for that class that was working with a person we had a bad relationship with or a person we had a good relationship with that we wanted to make better.
And I chose Maalik Bomar."
Schaffer spent his final two seasons paired with Bomar at linebacker.
"My reasons for choosing him because we are together every single day," said Schaffer. "We are working it out together. The better relationship we have the better our defense is going to be and as a result our team is going to be."
With family in mind
By choosing Cincinnati J.K. was accepting the watchful eye of his family, his high school friends. Less likely was he to get lost in the traditional vices of college.
For Schaffer the inherent familial support he invited with him to Cincinnati was vital.
"Extremely important," said Schaffer. "Going into college and knowing I would be playing at Cincinnati and they would be able to watch me every game."
After every home game Schaffer dutifully handled all his media responsibilities then returned to the field to enjoy the company of his massive following. Family members, friends, Schaffer had them all there. Every game.
It can be a lot of play for. Not just your teammates, your coach, but everyone who loves who. The pressure could be stifling, or at the very least weighty.
"So far I have made them proud and they tell me that everyday," said Schaffer.
Never was the possibility of turning the wrong way a danger for the steadfast senior.
"When those opportunities came I thought about my family and being under the microscope and that helped me make the right decisions," said Schaffer.
Though the possibility for a toothless major exists at many universities for football players Schaffer worked hard with an eye to the future.
He saw no point in skating through classes because colleges ultimately offer career advice and insight into career options, if used properly.
"I am looking to look in Criminal Justice field, U.S. Marshals or F.B.I. I want to go out and find people," said Schaffer. "Know the way they are thinking."
Can you imagine J.K. Schaffer knocking on your door? Imposing yes.
He would not be the first Cincinnati Bearcats to apply their Criminal Justice degree to life after football.
"John Hughes has a pretty good job with River City Half Way House," said Schaffer. "Kenny Rodriguez works with Border Patrol out in California."
Schaffer would be moving into a field his family has no connections, no experience with. It is hardly the family business.
"I like being original, doing my own thing."
Schaffer is the second consecutive Cincinnati player to be chosen as the American Eagle Outfitters BIG EAST Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year, following 2010 winner John Goebel.
Yet again he has set the standard for future Bearcats to pursue. Strong, honorable, driven, J.K. Schaffer will be a tough act to follow.