Former Falcon gridiron great talks goals, choices
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.