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James Redshaw: 4.0 GPA not all that defines cornerback’s Notre Dame career

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, November 11, 2010

The priorities of the student come before the priorities of the athlete, and according to senior cornerback James “J.T.” Redshaw, that’s the way it should be.

Redshaw graduated as his high school’s valedictorian while captaining the football and baseball teams at Norwin High School in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“Academics and sports have always been a big part of my life, since I was little,” Redshaw said. “My parents always taught me that grades come first, but I never really got good grades for anybody else but myself, because that was what I wanted to do.”

Even with a schedule filled with medical school interviews, keeping up with friends, and football practice in the afternoon, Redshaw’s pre-med major still makes academics his No. 1 priority. The senior has maintained a 4.0 GPA while transferring his drive and dedication to the football field.

“Coming out [to practice] against this caliber of athletes always keeps you driven and motivated to do whatever you can to help the team for the upcoming Saturday,” Redshaw said. “I love waking up every day and coming here to be a part of this team, knowing that I contribute to something great.”

Without his football pads, the 5-foot-9 cornerback is hardly recognized on campus, often having to prove his position on the roster.

But Redshaw finds inspiration in former walk-on, and 2009 graduate, Mike Anello, who became a special teams expert and fan-favorite despite his small stature.

“Seeing everything that [Anello] went through being undersized makes you realize how important the intangibles are in football because you can’t teach that,” Redshaw said. “It serves as inspiration that shows you how important every rep is in practice and where it can get you.”

While Redshaw draws inspiration in those around him on the football field, he finds motivation in his family, trying to return their sacrifices with his success.

“I see all of my family’s hard work to get me to a place like ND, so it’s the least I can do to just give my best effort when I am given this wonderful opportunity,” Redshaw said.

Football and family seem to mesh well in the Redshaw family, especially living in a football town in western Pennsylvania.

“Growing up in Pittsburgh, football is a way of life,” the senior said. “My dad was one of those dads that make sure they show up for every practice and game, and for him to see me play for Notre Dame is something special.”

When breaking the news that he made the team to his family during spring of his freshman year, Redshaw waited until Easter break, a week before the annual Blue-Gold exhibition game.

“My dad practically fell out of the booth while my mom just started crying,” Redshaw said. “It just shows how much that meant to them, knowing how important football is to me. They really had no idea that I was trying out for the team.”

In fact, the only person close to Redshaw who knew that he was trying out for the team was his roommate, and that was simply a result of Redshaw waking up at 4:30 a.m. to work out with the squad.

“You wouldn’t want to tell anybody about the tryouts because at any moment you could get cut,” Redshaw said. “I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up, and especially not mine.”

Despite the early practices and the grueling process, Redshaw quickly adds that he would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

“Putting on the gold helmet is truly special and I will cherish it forever,” Redshaw said. “It is something that has epitomized my time here and my whole college experience.”