Graduation ceremonies highlight eve of UAB football’s bowl game

11 players take part in graduation service on eve of UAB’s matchup with Northern Illinois in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl.

Eleven University of Alabama at Birmingham football players celebrated their university career in a different kind of uniform Monday night — graduation caps and gowns.

UAB President Ray L. Watts, Provost Pam Benoit, UAB Athletics Director Mark Ingram, UAB Football Head Coach Bill Clark, fellow teammates, families and fans celebrated the academic achievements of graduating players Monday evening on the eve of UAB’s Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl battle with Northern Illinois Dec. 18.

“This is indeed a day of special celebration,” Watts said of the university’s first-of-its-kind bowl commencement service.

The players receiving their degrees Monday included:

  • A.J. Brooks of Gilroy, California
  • Kailon Carter of Boutte, Louisiana
  • Mar’Sean Diggs of Washington, D.C.
  • Yusupha Foster of Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Malique Johnson of Freepoint, Illinois
  • Craig Kanyangarara of Lynn, Massachusetts
  • Collin Lisa of Alpharetta, Georgia
  • Chase Long of Athens, Alabama
  • Logan Scott of Purvis, Mississippi
  • Broderick Thomas of West Columbia, Texas
  • Andre Wilson of Converse, Texas

“It means a lot to have this ceremony,” said Collin Lisa. “Coach Clark always talks about how school is first. And for a lot of us here, if we weren’t playing football, it would be tough for us to finish school — at least it would for me. This is the biggest accomplishment I’ve had so far in my life. To graduate from a great school like UAB and be able to do it and share it with the guys on the team really means a lot.”

The Conference USA Champion Blazers (10-3) will play their third bowl game in program history tonight against Mid-American Conference Champion Northern Illinois (8-5). Kickoff will be 6 p.m. CST on ESPN. The game can be heard locally on 100.5 FM, and a watch party will be held at Iron City Grill.