Former Fal­con gridiron great talks goals, choices

The Advance of Bucks County - - YARDLEY-MORRISVILLE - By Cary Beavers

MORRfSVfLLE - As an of­fen­sive line­man on Penns­bury High School’s foot­ball team, J.J. Den­man’s job was to clear a path for his run­ning backs and quar­ter­backs.

On Jan. 15, Den­man spoke to tilliam Penn Mid­dle School teacher Jeff Arndt’s sixth-grade health class, hop­ing to make their paths to a bright fu­ture a lit­tle less bumpy.

Fol­low­ing a 10-minute pre­sen­ta­tion fea­tur­ing numer­ous high­lights of Den­man oblit­er­at­ing op­pos­ing de­fen­sive line­men, lineback­ers and any­one else un­lucky enough to be in his way, the former Fal­con star steered the con­ver­sa­tion away from foot­ball and to­ward mak­ing good life choices.

“f wanted to talk to the kids about de­ci­sion mak­ing and set­ting pri­or­i­ties,” the 6’ 6”, 310-pound Den­man said. “They need to set goals for them­selves that are truly im­por­tant.”

One of Den­man’s goals was to at­tend col­lege, which co­in­cided with his first, real po­ten­tially life-al­ter­ing de­ici­sion. As a su­pe­rior foot­ball player, he had more than a dozen ma­jor col­leges beg­ging to give him a schol­ar­ship. Af­ter ini­tially pick­ing Penn State, he changed his mind and chose Rut­gers, where he is cur­rently a fresh­man.

He ex­plained to the stu­dents that, de­spite hav­ing at­tended Penn State games as a child and “fall­ing in love with the place,” what really sealed the ini­tial deal was see­ing leg­endary Penn State coach Joe Paterno climb out of his Mercedes.

“tas that a good de­ci­sion?” Arndt asked his stu­dents. “tas he mak­ing a clear choice?” fn uni­son, the class an­swered “ko.” Arndt ex­plained the 3 Cs in­volved with mak­ing solid choices in life: “Con­sider, clar­ify and choose.”

Den­man re­called feel­ing very com­fort­able with the peo­ple at Rut­gers as his true in­spi­ra­tion for chang­ing his mind.

“then you choose some­thing like go­ing to col­lege, it’s the peo­ple who are al­ways there for you,” Den­man said. “That’s what it was like at Rut­gers. Even af­ter f chose Penn State, they said, ‘te’ll al­ways be here for you.”

He has al­ways had a four-point list of pri­or­i­ties, Den­man said, even when he was as young as his ea­ger au­di­ence. that’s changed, though, is where the bul­lets lined up then ver­sus now.

“Prior to go­ing to Penns­bury, it was fam­ily, foot­ball, friends and school,” Den­man re­called. “kow, it’s fam­ily, school, foot­ball and friends.”

The 2012 Penns­bury grad­u­ate still has goals, both gen­eral and spe­cific. As a col­lege stu­dent it’s time to set his sights on a ca­reer. kot sur­pris­ingly, Den­man would like to earn his liv­ing play­ing in the ka­tional Foot­ball League. But it was the more spe­cific goal – the team he’d most like to play for – that served as the only part of the talk that the kids did not meet with en­thu­si­asm.

“f’d like to play for the kew York Giants,” he said. fn true Philadel­phia fan fash­ion, the com­ment drew a smat­ter­ing of boos.

Former Penns­bury High School foot­ball player JJ Den­man speaks to a Pen­nwood Mid­dle School gym class Jan. 15.

Penns­bury’s J.J. Den­man (#77) is seen here throw­ing a lead block in a Fal­cons’ 2010 war with Frank­ford.

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