The Jets’ All-Pro is now looking to become a graduate
Covering assignments on the field was no problem for Sauce Gardner in his first NFL season. Just imagine how he’ll be in the classroom.
The New York Jets‘ All-Pro defender has immediately found his offseason calling, unveiling his intentions to return to college on social media on Saturday night.
Even though I had a 3.5 cumulative GPA after my 3rd year in college, I never got to get my degree because I wanted to leave early & purse my dream of playing in the NFL…… With that being said, I’m back enrolled in classes and on course to graduate in the summer🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾
— SAUCE (@iamSauceGardner) January 15, 2023
Gardner was an early NFL entrant, leaving the University of Cincinnati after his junior season to begin his professional career. The decision proved to be well worth it: the Jets chose Gardner with the fourth overall pick of last year’s draft and he rewarded their faith by becoming the first freshman secondary defender to earn All-Pro honors since Ronnie Lott in 1981.
With his first year in the books, Gardner is going back to school to finish what he started.
“Even though I had a 3.5 cumulative GPA after my 3rd year in college, I never got to get my degree because I wanted to leave early & (pursue) my dream of playing in the NFL,” Gardner declared in a tweet posted during the AFC Wild Card game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers. “With that being said, I’m back enrolled in classes and on course to graduate in the summer.”
Gardner’s replies are filled with unanimous approval and well-wishes for his new and old endeavor, with fellow active NFL defenders Avonte Maddox and Bobby Wagner among them. Others label Gardner a worthy role model both on and off the field, the affairs in the former yielding two interceptions and a league-best 20 pass defenses.
It’s perhaps too bad, at least for Cincinnati, that Gardner’s NFL entry killed any form of collegiate eligibility: the Bearcats posted a respectable 9-4 season in their first year of the post-Gardner era but are set to face a new challenge as they move onto Big 12 action next season. Gardner, of course, has bigger affairs to settle in New York, where he’s hoping to finally lead the Jets out of their long-lasting playoff drought, which stands as the second-longest in the commonly accepted “Big Four” North American professional sports teams behind only the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
In the meantime, Gardner may have another major certificate coming his way before he hits the books: many have pegged him as the favorite for the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, which will be bestowed at the annual NFL Honors on Feb. 9, three days before Super Bowl LVII.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags