Nov. 19, 2008
RUSTON -- For the second consecutive year, Louisiana Tech ranks No. 1 in the state of Louisiana and the Western Athletic Conference in student-athlete graduation rate.
On Tuesday, nine Bulldog football players showed why as the young men received their degrees just four days prior to putting on the pads and facing New Mexico State in an important WAC game.
Surrounded by family and friends, the nine newly-anointed college graduates included David Accardo, Alex Anderson, Nolan Darby, Earl Griffin, Al Hawkins, Stevon Howze, Brad Oestriecher, Josh Wheeler and Shane Womack.
Head coach Derek Dooley -- looking like a proud father -- was there to snap photos and congratulate his players after commencement exercises were over at the Thomas Assembly Center.
"I'm proud of every one of these guys because they've attained the most important goal every student should have when they attend college and that is to graduate," Dooley said. "We expect this to be the norm as we continue to invest in our academic support and recruit quality student-athletes."
In addition to ranking No. 1 in the state and the conference in graduation rate, Louisiana Tech's football program was honored recently by the American Football Coaches Association as one of only 32 schools to graduate at least 70 percent of its student-athletes.
Tech was the lone representative from the state and for the WAC included in this prestigious group of football programs.
Accardo, who earned his bachelor's of arts in kinesiology, said that Dooley stresses the importance of succeeding not only on the field but off the field to all of the Bulldog players.
"Even today at the end of practice, he talked to the team about the importance of an education and made all of the guys graduating today stand up," Accardo said. "He pointed out the fact that we had done a good job on and off the field. He emphasizes the importance of getting an education so we have something after football."
These nine Bulldogs are not only ready for football this Saturday, but they are now ready for what lies ahead in their future off the gridiron.