Jonathan Ifedi’s inspirational journey to national recognition

DE Terry Thomas celebrating a monster interception made by teammate Jonathan Ifedi. Photo by Zach Butler | The Signal

“If it was easy, everyone would be able to do it” is a common line that most people hear when striving for success or something bigger in life. The line remains true for most competitors in sports.

Georgia State redshirt senior wide receiver Jonathan Ifedi knows about the grind of academic and athletic success. He did not always play football, though.

“My mom, at first, didn’t want me playing football,” Ifedi said. “I was in basketball, then my basketball coach got a football team, and [I] got to sign up and fell in love from day one.” 

As a Division I student-athlete, balancing academics and playing a sport is something only a few gifted individuals understand. The mental and physical challenges take a toll on an individual’s body every day. 

Parents of student-athletes often encourage their children to get their education first, which is what Ifedi’s parents have continuously informed him to do. He earned his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems in 2019 and will receive his master’ss in cybersecurity.  

“The thing about the information system is it kinda bridges the gap between the technical and business world,” Ifedi said. “I knew I definitely wanted to be between those two realms, but I just didn’t know exactly what. And I was presented with that major in undergrad and liked it from day one and hadn’t regretted it since.” 

Ifedi’s success in the classroom opened the door for him to receive several accolades from his school and the Sun Belt Conference: Sun Belt Commissioners List in 2017-2018’ Sun Belt Honor-Roll in 2018-2019; Dean’s List in 2017, 2018 and spring of 2020 and Athletics Director Honor Roll in 2016, 2018 and 2019. 

But his inspirational academic success reached a new height when the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced him as a semifinalist for the 2020 William V. Campbell Trophy earlier this month.  

“This award makes me feel great, just the fact I’m in the conversation with some Georgia State greats, definitely something I’m thankful for,” Ifedi said. “It definitely means a lot. I wasn’t even expecting this. Just the fact I’m a semifinalist is unbelievable.” 

Ifedi and the Panthers are currently 1-2 following a tough 59-52 loss on Thursday to the Arkansas State Red Wolves. But, the offense and defense look sharp and confident to make a hard push to win the Sun Belt Conference and a bowl game this year.