The Franklin & Marshall scholar-athlete profile features one Diplomat per month who personifies what it means to be an NCAA student-athlete. The F&M campus is filled with dedicated, passionate, and talented student-athletes who have interesting stories to tell – and it's our goal to let those stories be heard. To be chosen as a scholar-athlete of the month, F&M student-athletes must demonstrate academic excellence, leadership, and community service, or have a noteworthy story that stretches beyond the realm of athletic competition.
To view previous scholar-athletes, click here.
Jordan Zackery already has accomplished in life what few his age have, both on and off the football field. He has set multiple school and conference records during his four-year football career at Franklin & Marshall College, but more importantly when he crosses the graduation stage in May, he will be the first person from his family to graduate with a college degree.
Zackery's journey to F&M is atypical of most college students. The York, Pa., native grew up in a single-parent household with two brothers and a sister. After being accepted to F&M, he had to make it through with little financial support from his family. When many students can call home and ask for a little extra spending money from their parents, Zackery had to find a solution on his own.
He did so by working as many hours as possible in the spring at Fulton Financial Corporation, going so far as to schedule all of his classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so that he could work full days at Fulton. He also moved his daily lifting routine to 6:45 a.m. to fit classes and work in the same day. Taking on these extra responsibilities has taught Zackery a valuable life lesson.
"I had to be very self-disciplined and have a set schedule to go by, in order to prioritize my time. It was important in juggling all my activities," Zackery said. "Always remembering the end goal is what kept me on track."
On the field, Zackery, a receiver and return specialist, has proven to be a program-changer.
"Jordan will go down as one of the greatest players to ever wear a F&M uniform," head coach John Troxell said. "With the amount of talent that has come through this conference and school, it speaks volumes to the kind of athlete he is. He could change a game at any moment."
As a junior, Zackery earned D3football.com All-America Third Team honors, the 43rd time a member of the Diplomats football team has received All-America recognition -- and the first since Dan Eggertsson '04 received the nod in 2004.
Following his senior season, Zackery became the 40th player in Centennial Conference history to be named to the all-conference first team three times, and was one of only four players to be named a unanimous first team selection in 2014. He finished his career peppered throughout F&M's record book. His 262 career receptions set a school and conference record, while his 4,612 all-purpose yards also ranked first in program history. He finished fourth in reception yards (2,517) and kick return yards (1,161), while his 21 reception TDs ranked fifth and his total points scored (144) was good for sixth all-time.
An intrinsic part of Zackery's education has come from being a member of a college football team.
"Playing football has taught me valuable time management skills, taught me to be a leader and helped instill in me a strong work ethic that will benefit me for the rest of my life," said Zackery. "I've also learned that it's important to enjoy this time of my life and not let the work consume me."
Zackery's excellence goes much further than the football field and in the classroom.
"He may have been the best athlete in the league, but he was even a better person and role model off the field," said Troxell. "His commitment to his teammates and his leadership abilities are what separate him from other athletes."
As if being a student-athlete, an All-American and holding down a part-time job was not hard enough, Zackery added one more title to this collection… father.
Last summer, Zackery and his fiancé welcomed Jalen Zackery into the world. The 7-lb., 1-oz. baby boy gave Zackery the most important job he will ever have and gave him even more responsibility. Balancing fatherhood, school, athletics and work has not been an easy task for Zackery, but he has succeed because he is surrounded by a great support structure.
"It has definitely been tough, but I have not done it alone," Zackery said. "My fiancé and I have been supported by family, friends, and by the F&M football program and the community."
That close sense of community at F&M is what drew Zackery to the College.
"I chose F&M for many different reasons but mostly because of the great academic education that I could receive here. I also chose this school because of Coach Troxell and the opportunities that I would be given from my experience at an institution like F&M."
Zackery has also been involved with the IMPACT (Intelligent Men Purposefully Accomplishing College Together) group on campus and has helped out with multiple volunteer programs and other campus activities. As a group, IMAPACT encourages men to form bonds—from meetings to programs to events—to share their experiences with one another and help each other excel in college and in the professional world.
When Zackery receives his degree from President Daniel Porterfield in May and becomes the first in his family to earn a college degree, that honor also will come with great responsibility; a fact that is not lost on Zackery.
"It's great and means a lot, but it also gives me a responsibility to do well after college and help to give back to my family," said Zackery.
After graduation, the economic major plans to purse a career in the financial services sector and eventually earn a MBA. If the last four years are any indication of his success, Zackery has bright future ahead.