The Jacksonville Jaguars will host six football players and head coach Ben Simmons from William M. Raines High School during the 8:45 a.m. practice on August 4 in recognition of their achievement in the National Football League's "Play It Smart" program. These players are being recognized for their academic as well as athletic improvement over the 2002-03 school year. The six players are: Charles Brown, Osborne Hall, Travis Holmes, Tremaine Mack, Derek Thomas and Oscar Watson.
"Play It Smart" is a school-based program funded by the Jaguars and the National Football Foundation that seeks to use the sport experience as a vehicle to enhance the academic, athletic, career and personal development of high school student-athletes. The goal of the program is for student athletes to develop skills that will enhance their athletic and academic performance through the assistance of an academic coach. There are currently over 30 "Play It Smart" programs around the country with Raines serving as the only one in Northeast Florida.
The program was established at Raines prior to the start of the 2002-03 school year with Kristin Shreve serving as the academic coach. Each of the six players increased his grade point average from one quarter to the next, assisted teammates with academic work, and volunteered for numerous community outreach activities including the assisting the Gateway Community Services community cleanup on April 26.
Since 1998, 98% of all seniors who particpated in Play It Smart programs around the country have graduated from high school, with 83.5% of those seniors going on to higher education. Play It Smart participants have also contributed over 3,000 hours of community service.
Following practice, the players will meet head coach Jack Del Rio and visit with several Jaguars players during lunch.