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Jacket Wide Receiver Gavin Naquin Named to the Academic All-State Team

                Gavin Naquin has earned numerous accolades for his skills as a versatile wide receiver throughout his playing years in Jackets Football.

                With the Jackets’ 2020 season now on the books, Naquin is being honored for his performance as an academic athlete by the Texas High School Coaches Association. The senior has been named to the THSCA Football Academic All-State Team, based on his GPA, class rank and SAT/ACT scores.

                Naquin is among the All-State Second Team honorees and the first player to achieve the recognition under the leadership of Coach Casey Walraven.

                “Gavin is the team captain and I think his fellow players know, and respect, the way he represents our program’s model of excellence,” Walraven said. “He strives to be the best in everything he does. Gavin excels in the classroom and on the football field. He’s one of those we want to be the face of Cleburne football, Cleburne athletics and Cleburne High School.”

                “Every year I nominate varsity players who excel in the classroom, have a great standing among their peers and reflect moral character,” Walraven said. “I wasn’t surprised when I received the news that he had been selected. I knew Gavin would make the THSCA Academic All-State list at some level before he graduated.”

                Math teacher Bill Preston had Naquin among his Pre-AP Pre-Calculus students last year, and now has him on his AP Calculus roster. He, too, voiced no surprise upon learning of Naquin’s academic recognition.

“Gavin is an excellence student, as his consistent A-plus average demonstrates,” Preston said. “In fact, he currently has a 97 in Calculus, which is highly unusual for such a difficult subject. Gavin takes ownership of his education by coming for tutoring if he doesn’t understand a concept. He also manages his time extremely well, as he is involved in many extracurricular activities in addition to football, yet he keeps up on his academics.”

                “In addition to being a great student, Gavin is also an engaging and thoughtful person,” Preston said. “He has a magnetic personality and works extremely well with others. He has a great sense of humor, takes things in stride and calmly approaches difficult situations. I have truly been blessed having him as a student.”

                Joe Hough, who has Naquin in his AP Biology class, counts him among his “go-to” students.

                “Gavin is the type of student you wish you had a whole class of,” Hough said. “His ability to grasp complex ideas is amazing. He is one of my go-to students in AP Biology. When I need a correct answer, I go to Gavin. I am so glad that he is getting recognized because he is so deserving.”

                The Academic All-State honor has come in time for Naquin to include it on the resume he is preparing in his application for an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy. The athlete, known for his ability to send a football into flight, is hoping for a career as a pilot.

                “I’m leaning toward becoming a pilot or majoring in environmental science,” said the 17-year-old, who has already been accepted to Tarleton State University and Texas Tech.

                 “I want to get on the fastest path to becoming a pilot and attending the Air Force Academy would certainly help with that,” he said. “Colorado Springs would be a great place to go to school.”

                Naquin credits his parents with what he has achieved in both academics and athletics. His mother played volleyball at McNeese State University and his father played football at the University of Lafayette.

                “My school work has always been a priority for me, even over football,” Naquin said. “It’s a top priority along with God and my family. Excellence in the classroom has always been an expectation of my parents and one I have had for myself. In the eighth grade I got a B. I wasn’t devastated, but I didn’t want another one.”

                While he is pleased to be on the Academic All-State list, Naquin says he is more likely known by his teammates for his intellect on the field.

                “I think I’m known more for being smart in football, than in the classroom,” he said. “I have had the mindset to enjoy high school, but I’ve also had to say no to fun when I had a project due. It wasn’t fun to say no, but that’s what I needed to do.”

                “I thought it was pretty cool when I heard I had made the list,” he said. “I hadn’t heard of anyone getting that since I’ve been in high school. Coach Walraven talks to us a lot about keeping up our grades and being excellent both in the classroom and on the field.”

                Naquin’s recognition—and the way he is viewed by teammates and teachers alike—reflect Walraven’s mission for Jackets Football.

                “When we got here, we began establishing several values we wanted our players to apply in life,” Walraven said. “We want them to include excellence in everything they do as students, athletes, sons and members of the community. Gavin’s achievement reflects our emphasis on academics. We have several players who were very close to the level of criteria required for the Academic All-State list. I’m hoping seeing Gavin receive this honor will inspire his teammates to get this same accolade.”

                Walraven would also be happy to see Naquin continue with football at the college level. His playing skills, coupled with his academic record, make him an ideal candidate—and a great catch.

                “He has received an offer from Austin College and he’s had lots of recruiters looking at him, with his academics leading the way,” Walraven said. “Gavin will have to make that decision—I know he’s interested in playing. It’s a choice he will have to make.”

                With football at an end, Naquin has shifted his focus to track season—which is coming up fast. But coming up even faster is the deadline to complete his application to the Air Force Academy.

                His football coach believes that whatever Naquin’s next play might be, he’ll be ready and up for the challenge.

                “Gavin will always be on the forefront of things,” Walraven said. “He doesn’t care about being cool or following a trend. He’s just going to do his best—that’s what makes him a leader.”

                Naquin is currently ranked 13th in the CHS Class of 2021. He is Student Council vice-president and a member of National Honor Society and Beta Club. He is a three-time Academic Excellence Awards recipient and a three-sport letterman in football, basketball and track.