Georgia State Sports Communications
“Nothing is ever given around here. Everything is earned.”
Those were Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott’s words to his football team in Friday morning’s team meeting. He was describing his backup center, junior walk-on Jamal Paxton.
Make that junior SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT Jamal Paxton.
“We’ve got a young man in this room who I’ve watched for the last seven months work his tail off, fight for everything, say nothing, do a thankless job,” Elliott told the Panthers.
“He continues to fight and fight and fight. He doesn’t blink an eye at anything that’s asked of him. “He exemplifies everything we want to be as a team this year. Everything.”
“And he does it for free. He doesn’t do it for the pat on the back, doesn’t do it for the scholarship, doesn’t do it for anything but himself because of the way he was raised to be a great young man who fights for everything, never takes anything for granted, and pushes himself through adversity.”
— GSU Football (@GeorgiaStateFB) August 11, 2017
With Paxton’s parents, Nathaniel and Hnede, in attendance Elliott said the magic words: “We have an opportunity at Georgia State to do something for that young man. Right now. We’ve awarded you a full scholarship.” Paxton, who is from Scottdale and attended Tucker High School, is in his third year with the Georgia State program after spending one season at Campbellsville (Ky.) University. In the spring, he moved from the defensive line to center, where he has earned a backup role.
What made this moment even more unique is that for the second time in four years, it involved a member of the Paxton family. Before the 2014 season, Jamal’s older brother, Nate, was awarded a scholarship after exemplifying the same determination and fight in the face of adversity.
Nate went on to graduate from Georgia State, becoming the first member of his family to earn a college degree. He is now in graduate school and works with the football program as a graduate assistant on the strength and conditioning staff.