NFL star returns to ETSU to finish degree - WNCN: News, Weather

NFL star returns to ETSU to finish degree

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Josh Smith interviews former Dallas Cowboy Gerald Sensabaugh on the ETSU campus where he's working to finish his college degree. Josh Smith interviews former Dallas Cowboy Gerald Sensabaugh on the ETSU campus where he's working to finish his college degree.

This time last year, Gerald Sensabaugh's fourth season with the Dallas Cowboys was just underway.

The Kingsport native's rise to the heights of NFL stardom happened quickly. From ETSU to UNC,  from the Jacksonville Jaguars to "America's Team,"  Sensabaugh seemed to be on a roll that wasn't close to stopping. But after a series of injuries, Cowboys management decided last March to cut Sensabaugh from the team.  

He could have looked for work elsewhere, but the 30 year old father decided it was time to focus on his family - and himself. "I wanted stability," Sensabaugh told News Channel 11. "I didn't want to go through the process of trying out and hoping for a new team."

So after taking a few months off to move him family from Dallas back to the Tri-Cities, Gerald Sensabaugh decided to finish what he started and get his college degree.  Through Twitter, Sensabaugh told his followers, "I'm a student again." We found out where the NFL star is cracking the books and what he plans to do after getting his diploma. 

"Are you are a sophomore, a junior?" we asked Sensabaugh during a recent interview right after a morning class.  "To be honest, I have no clue," Sensabaugh said.   "I know I have about three semesters to complete."

With a 12 hour course load this semester, Sensabaugh is technically a full-time student majoring in inter-disciplinary studies, a decision reached after sharing his career dream with new ETSU Football Coach Carl Torbush.

"I'm thinking about getting into coaching, and everybody says you need a degree," said Sensabaugh. "What better way than to come to East Tennessee (State University) and finish up."

After years of performing on national television and mingling with some of the biggest names in professional sports, Sensabaugh now spends his days rubbing elbows with recent college graduates.  And he's aware of the perception they may have of him.

 "Everybody automatically thinks that you're rich and you're this and that and you don't need school," he said.  "We're in a day and age when it takes a degree to do anything.   My only expertise is football.  Now, I can't go out there and hit and make tackles anymore.   Now I need to find a whole other expertise.  And that takes schooling."

Will he have a role in ETSU's new football team when players first take the field in fall 2015?   "Who knows?" he said.  "I'm just enjoying the ride."  The smile on his face is proof he's telling the truth.  "I feel like I'm 19 again," he said.

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