There two things that are very important to Derreion Hinton, a fifth grader at Nichols Intermediate School in Jacksonville.
Football and performing well in the classroom.
Hinton's dedication to those things that he that he cherishes earned him a spot in the Bret Cooper Football Junior Academic All-American Bowl, which was played on Jan. 3 in the Dallas suburb of Lancaster.
The game showcased many of the top junior high school student-athletes from all across the United States.
This all-star game was different in that its participants had to make the grade, no pun intended, in two areas — athletically and academically.
In addition the character of the players was examined before invitations were issued to make sure each was in good standing within in their respective local communities.
Hinton, who plays running back and inside linebacker on the defensive side, was one of just 60 boys that was picked to play in the bowl out of a preliminary list of over 5,000 potential candidates.
“It was really neat to play in that game,” Hinton said. “We worked hard and had a lot of meetings, but I had fun.”
On a side note, those invited to play in the bowl were treated to a tour of AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, which just happens to be Hinton's favorite football team, as well as a trip to the Cotton Bowl football game to witness Michigan State coming from behind to knock off Baylor, 42-41.
Hinton, who played for the Rusk Eagles in the Tri-County Youth Football League last fall, already has set a couple of pretty lofty goals for himself.
He would like to play football at a NCAA Division I college and before that he dreams of playing for the Jacksonville Fightin' Indians on Friday nights.
“Football is a very important part of my life and I would like to continue and play for a Division I college some day,” Hinton added.
Derreion is the son of Shaun and Shorunda Hinton.
His grandparents are LaFrancis Hinton and the late Ardis Hinton and Mitchie and Earl Franklin.
Derreion Hinton stated that he was grateful for the financial support provided to him by D & L Tooling and his grandfather, Earl Franklin, which made his Dallas trip possible.