Beyond Signing Day: Prince George mom helps son succeed

PRINCE GEORGE, Va. (WRIC) — Early every February thousands of football players across the United States sign their names to National Letters of Intent (NLI), a legally binding agreement between a college or university and a future student to provide an athletic scholarship.

That NLI isn’t binding if the student athlete fails to complete certain GPA and SAT/ACT requirements. Many who sign an NLI and start to celebrate never make it to the campus with which they celebrated signing the agreement.

Jarius Richardson was one such case. A talented basketball player at Petersburg High School, Jarius realized his size (6’8″ 320 lbs), strength (275 lbs bench press, 315 lbs squat), and basketball footwork might make him a good offensive lineman. He even attracted college interest despite not playing football at Petersburg.

Then came the SAT. He couldn’t get the score he needed. He couldn’t get the score he needed on the ACT — which student-athletes often take because it is widely considered to be easier — either.

Enter Jarius’s mother, Demetria Jennings.

First, she sent her son to the Atlanta Sports Academy. It’s a postgraduate that functions as a prep school. Jarius took online courses off the field and got better and better as an offensive tackle on the field. But still, after up to ten attempts at the SAT and ACT combined, Jarius was not academically eligible.

Ms. Jennings pulled him out of ASA and brought him home to Prince George County and the Believe N U Academic Development Center, which she runs just outside of Hopewell in Prince George.

Jennings put her son on a strict regimen of personal training, nutrition, and especially tutoring. For hours every day, she drilled him on passing the ACT.

It worked.

Jarius Richardson got the score he needed, and soon after he signed a National Letter of Intent with Winston-Salem State University, for which he is qualified academically. As of July, Demetria Jennings says Jarius is enrolled at WSSU and will play for the school this fall.

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