When Malcolm Ajayi was recruited to Contra Costa College, he could not take to the gridiron right away because his grades were too low.
Coach Alonzo Carter took over the football team in 2010 and told Ajayi he would not be able to play safety that season until he turned around his grades.
Two years later, the Sacramento High School graduate has earned a full scholarship to Prairie View A&M University in Houston, Texas.
“I wanted to better myself and work harder to earn my scholarship,” Ajayi said. “This is a great accomplishment for me.”
Ajayi and his other transferring teammates were honored at a football team banquet recognizing athletic and academic accomplishments in the Fireside Room on Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Comet football players Ajayi, Jordan Morrow, Najee Lovett and Tate Mustin, from the 2011 team, were in attendance to receive recognition for the scholarships they received, while other football players received certificates for earning GPAs of 3.0 or better.
Cameron Fuller and Isaac Goins also received scholarships to New Mexico State University and the University of Maryland, respectively.
They are already attending their new colleges and were unable to attend the ceremony.
A change in scenery awaits Lovett, Morrow and Ajayi, who will be leaving California to attend colleges in the Midwest and South regions of the country, but they say they are prepared and ready for the adjustment.
Lovett began his tenure at the University of Idaho as a spring transfer and was able to make the ceremony. The communications major said he might become a social worker.
Morrow said his scholarship to Murray State University in Kentucky, “means the world to me. I’m excited to be moving to a new environment.”
Speakers at the event included Carter, Athletic Director John Wade and Oakland Raiders running back Taiwan Jones.
When Wade shared his thoughts to the crowd, he stated his mission as athletic director.
“My goal at CCC is for you guys to transfer,” he said. “If you’re here to only play football and not focus on your academics, then you’re not short-changing anyone but yourself.”
Hiring Carter in 2010 proved Wade to be a man of his word.
Known for turning struggling high school football programs into winners and sending student-athletes to four-year universities, Carter has lived up to his reputation at CCC.
“I wanted to acknowledge the (football) team’s academic achievements as well as the signees,” Carter said. “We’ve had 52 players earn 3.0 or better GPAs in a two-year period: 28 in 2010 and 24 (in 2011).
“You can feel the pride in the room,” Carter said. “I want them to understand that this should be a standard. I want to emphasize that it is their academics that will enable them to go anywhere.”