TAMPA, Fla. -- Former Jesuit High School offensive lineman Jackson Dennis had scholarship offers to play at Central Florida and Florida International. But the 6-foot-7, 308-pounder chose Holy Cross, an FCS school in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Last week, Dennis signed a free agent deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
Dennis wasn't sure how long his football career would last, which was something he kept in mind when he made his college choice.
"I just fell in love with the campus and the life there at Holy Cross," Dennis said. "And I really wanted a degree, a good degree, and I could have a good life after football if it ever ended. I never really expected to have football after college."
"Jackson always had a good head on his shoulders," said Jesuit head coach Matthew Thompson. "He wasn’t looking for a football school. He was looking for the right fit for him. I think Holy Cross challenged him academically."
Despite the fact that he's kicked off his NFL career, Dennis says his post-football plans are just as important.
"Kind of been a big deal is the alumni network for Jesuit and Holy Cross. Just a lot of good people, you can get a job with right after school. A lot of guys can look at this and say 'I can get a good education at a smaller school and still fulfill the dreams of going to the NFL.'"
Thompson said wasn't shocked when he heard Dennis signed with the Cardinals.
"Doesn’t surprise me that he made it to the NFL. Doesn’t surprise me that he played at Holy Cross and started. That’s where his work ethic just came through," he said.
Dennis said life hasn't changed much since he signed. He's been getting emails and FedEx packages from Arizona's staff while continuing to workout in Tampa and waiting for the green light to head west for training camp.