RIDGELAND, Miss. (WLBT) - A Madison-Ridgeland Academy football player is finishing his high school journey with more than just a diploma.
Nicolas Rowan is the first African-American salutatorian in the school’s history and scored more than $2 million in scholarship money. He has been accepted to three military academies.
Five days a week, the 19-year-old is at Totem Fitness in Ridgeland working out with his fitness coach Terry Cooper.
Hard work is nothing new to Rowan, after all, he began playing football in elementary school and was a strong offensive lineman for MRA.
“I have been playing since the fourth grade," said Rowan. “My dad made me start playing. At first, I didn’t want to do it and that is a whole funny story. I’ll save for another time.”
He was also an academic standout in the classroom. The star athlete was salutatorian of his graduating class.
“When I was younger, my main goal was to earn a scholarship to get myself an education,” he said.
Rowan did just that, raking in millions in athletic scholarships and college acceptance letters.
“It’s 2.3 million in all. My 10th grade year, I got my first offer from Alcorn State University, my second offer was Jackson State," he said. “A year later, the Naval Academy offered me one and West Point and then the Air Force, and then a few Ivy Leagues. It was an awesome experience because all my life they said I was 6′2 and an offensive lineman, and you are not going to play anywhere, and I was able prove them wrong.”
The graduate chose the United States Naval Academy over the other colleges.
“Education comes first. I would have never received the Ivy League schools or the military schools if I wouldn’t have made the straight A’s in the classroom,” said Rowan.
Now the 19-year-old is focused on training to earn a position on the football team for the Navy. He leaves next month and is excited about what his future holds.
“It is not only about playing football, it is about serving my country. I am very blessed.”