Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton spent Friday celebrating his graduation from the College of Communication and Information. This summer, he'll begin work on a master's degree in sports psychology.
But when it comes to learning a new offense, Crompton is more than an undergraduate.
"I might be on my Ph.D. with that part, I don't even know," Crompton joked Friday morning during a reception for graduating student-athletes at the Thornton Center. "I've had a new offense to learn every spring I've been here, so that gets difficult. But it's fun. It's always challenging, but it really tests your true character and the teammates around you and kind of tells you who you are as a person on and off the field."
Some 47 men's and women's student-athletes graduated this week, including 15 former and current football players.
When the football team takes the field Sept. 5 against Western Kentucky, 11 Vols will be working on a master's degree. Five more will be finishing a second undergraduate degree.
Among those heading to graduate school is offensive lineman Jacques McClendon, who graduated Friday with a degree in economics after just three years.
"I'm on track to finish my graduate school before I leave here," he said. "That was a great thing to be able to get those here while I'm on (scholarship). That's a big plus for me."
But it wasn't just for himself.
"It's been a constant grind, but it's something that I promised my mother when I was of a very young age," McClendon said. "I know that means a lot to her. I told her I was going to do that, and I'm a man of my word, so I made sure I did that."
Cornerback Marsalous Johnson also graduated this week with a degree in legal studies and is still deciding whether to enroll in graduate courses or pursue a second undergraduate degree this fall. Either way, he's ahead of schedule.
"It's tough, but I came to school with it as one of my big priorities, just like football is," Johnson said. "I came to college not just to play football but be a student-athlete. I took that to heart. My mom, that's how they raised me. Football isn't always promised after you leave college. To get my degree was a big thing."
It took Crompton a lot of long nights to finish in four years, he said.
An average day starts with a workout at 6 a.m., followed by class, position meetings and practice. Then it's time for schoolwork and extra film sessions.
If there was a casualty for Crompton, whose position demands extra time in the film room, it wasn't football or school. It was sleep.
"I've stayed up until 1 (o'clock), 2, 3, maybe 4 in the morning doing homework and have to be up at 6 o'clock in the morning to go to football," Crompton said. "It's difficult, but it's the thing I chose to do and the thing I love to do.
"It's fun once you get used to it. And then the days you don't have it, you feel like you're missing something."
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.