May 13, 2016
May 13, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—When Jalen Reeves-Maybin stepped foot on Tennessee’s campus, his father gave him a challenge. Marques Maybin wanted his son to graduate in three years.
On May 14, 2016, that challenge will be completed.
Reeves-Maybin will graduate from the University of Tennessee after finishing with a Recreation and Sport Management major and Business Administration minor.
The Clarksville, Tennessee, native was dedicated to earning his degree in three years because of his dad’s challenge. Reeves-Maybin believes that fulfilling the challenge will benefit him during his senior campaign on the field.
“It will definitely make it easier for my senior year having [the degree] out of the way and knowing I am definitely going to walk out of here with something,” Reeves-Maybin said. “Being able to put that behind me and get that out of my head is a big relief off my shoulders.”
While having a degree may allow Reeves-Maybin to focus on football next season, he believes his early graduation will be a factor beyond 2016.
“A lot of NFL teams like graduates, and knowing that I’ll be a year past that this time next year, I think it will give me a boost over some other guys,” Reeves-Maybin said. “It shows them I’m a guy who knows how to deal with things and take care of business.”
Reeves-Maybin’s presence has been a staple for the Volunteers since his arrival in 2013. As a freshman, Reeves-Maybin made his impact on special teams, recording a team-best 11 tackles on special teams in 2013. He gathered at least one special teams tackle in six consecutive games.
In addition to his special teams outbreak, he also garnered valuable repetitions on the defensive side, recording 14 tackles rotating between linebacker and defensive back.
Despite his early success on the field, the academic struggles that affect so many freshmen hit Reeves-Maybin as well.
“My freshman year, I had a pretty bad semester just learning how to deal with football and to not get too sidetracked by one or the other,” Reeves-Maybin said. “Once I got through that freshman year, I knew how to handle it. I knew what was expected. I knew how to structure my days.”
Reeves-Maybin credited part of his success to the members of the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center, which houses academic counseling and career development services for student-athletes.
“I think the Thornton Center does a good job of setting us up for success as soon as we come in. We have so much of our academic time structured. That first year is the big year in terms of taking precedence.”
While he started to excel in the classroom, Reeves-Maybin also left a mark on the field.
In his sophomore and junior seasons, the linebacker started all 26 games for the Vols. Over the two seasons, he garnered 206 total tackles, eight sacks and 25 tackles-for-loss.
A proven leader on and off the field, head coach Butch Jones named Reeves-Maybin one of four captains for Team 120. While his play on the field is respected nationally, his character off the field has pushed some members of the Tennessee football team in the classroom.
“I feel like Darrin Kirkland Jr., has kind of taken the same path as I was taking,” Reeves-Maybin said. “I just tell him that you might struggle in one aspect, but you can definitely bounce back as long as you have to focus and attention to detail to do so.”
Reeves-Maybin’s work ethic has been evident during his tenure on Rocky Top, and that determination will shine on whatever path he takes professionally. Following the 2016 season, he will have his eyes set on the NFL. However, he knows life stretches beyond professional football.
“I definitely want to work in sports whether it’s in football, baseball or basketball,” Reeves-Maybin said. “With the business part, I feel like everyone needs that business background to understand the way organizations are run and how they operate. I think the people around me will guide me in the right directions. Over time, that business aspect of my major will definitely kick in.”
For now, Reeves-Maybin plans to focus on another challenge. With his undergraduate degree behind him, the linebacker hopes to fulfill the challenge for Tennessee’s 2016 season.
As a new graduate, Jalen Reeves-Maybin is ready for whatever challenges come his way.