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Cardinal Gibbons quarterback learned from early age

The newspaper industry provided me a four-decade career experiencing inspiration, dedication and just plain fun. The start of my career while covering the Chargers, college, high school sports and Olympic athletes came full circle with Don Coryell’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction on August 5 in Canton, Ohio. I helped Hall of Famer Dan Fouts with research on Coryell’s remarkable record of first-time Pro Bowlers with the SAN DIEGO Chargers and Cardinal for Fouts’ presentation to the voters. I’ve always appreciated the undervalued role of high school sports and high school coaches in our schools and society.

PHOTO (News & Observer): Cleveland seniors Cam Goins (L) and Landon Inscoe.

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By TOM SHANAHAN

RALEIGH — Gannon Jones says his inspiration to play quarterback stemmed from Robert Griffin III’s dynamic play. From a young age, the Cardinal Gibbons High sophomore watched games with his father, Kevin, and older brother, Gavin.

Wait a minute. Isn’t Jones too young to have Griffin for a favorite player?

He was only 4 years old when Griffin won the 2011 Heisman Trophy and 5 when Griffin was the NFL’s 2012 NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. And then Griffin was gone, quickly fading from the scene due to knee injuries.

“That’s my first football memory — his rookie year,” Jones said. “I learned about the Heisman later. My dad is a big football fan and watching games with him established my love for football.”

The football he absorbed was enough to arrive at Cardinal Gibbons with preternatural awareness as a sophomore. When senior starter Whitt Newbauer, who is committed to Mercer University, suffered a finger injury on his throwing hand in the first half of a midseason game against Hillside, Jones stepped up without flinching.

Read the remainder of my News & Observer story.

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Previous weekly features this season:

— Dec. 1, Cardinal Gibbons quarterback Gannon Jones, rising sophomore

— Nov. 24, Cleveland’s unbeaten seniors chase state title.

— Nov. 17, Rolesville quarterback Braden Atkinson, junior with two offers gaining attention

— Nov. 10, Millbrook kicker Angel Gomez, junior gaining attention

— Nov. 3, Leesville Road quarterback Deiondre Goldston, junior gaining attention

— Oct. 27, Clayton quarterback John Montague, offers include Boston College

— October 20, Durham Jordan running back Amarion Blue, junior gaining attention

— October 13, Garner receiver/return man Isaiah Dawson, Richmond commit

— October 6, Cardinal Gibbons quarterback Whitt Newbauer, Furman commit

— September 29, Fuquay-Varina athlete Malcolm Ziglar, North Carolina commit

— September 22, Wake Forest linebacker Zane Williams, North Carolina State commit

— September 15, South Garner defensive lineman Nnamdi Ogboko, Georgia commit

— September 8, Southeast Raleigh defensive lineman Chase Robinson, underrated prospect.

— September 1, Southern Durham defensive lineman Isaiah Campbell, 30-plus offers.

— August 25, Rolesville running back Isiah Jones, committed to NC State

— August 18, Millbrook quarterback Mason Fortune, underrated prospect.

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My books tell the true story of college football integration in the 1960s and address the myths and fiction that allowed a false narrative surrounding the 1970 USC-Alabama game to usurp the credit from the true pioneers. As I said when I spoke at the National Sports Media Association book festival, no two books provide an accurate portrayal more than RAYE OF LIGHT and THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

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Click here for my story on the 1962 Rose Bowl and Segregation awarded first place by the Football Writers Association of America. I tell untold stories on Michigan State’s leading role and the true pioneers of college football integration. Click here to read the summary as a first-place story.

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The True Pioneers of College Football Integration in the 1960s

Foreword by Ruffin McNeill

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Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1ntegration of College Football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans

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Coming soon for Christmas, my next children’s book: How Duffy Put Hawaii on the Football Map

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