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Being a student-athlete in The City That Never Sleeps isn’t as glamorous as it might seem.

Just ask Lely High School graduate Raynald St. Jour, who has spent the last year-and-a-half at ASA College in Brooklyn.

“Living in New York City, it’s expensive,” the 6-foot-2, 290-pound offensive lineman said. “For the most part, we had to buy our own meals, and there were times I’d ask myself ‘What am I doing here?’ But I kept pushing myself, thinking a greater good would come out of it.”

That greater good arrived Wednesday, when St. Jour fulfilled his dream of becoming a Division I football player, signing with FCS school University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. St. Jour was back at his high school alma mater to make it official on National Signing Day. He chose Arkansas-Pine Bluff over two other FCS schools – Morgan State and Mississippi Valley State.

“At ASA, I went through a lot but it taught me a lot about myself,” St. Jour said. “I gained a lot of mental toughness from it.”

St. Jour said the playing conditions weren’t ideal at the two-year school, with the Avengers practicing at three different fields throughout the week. Home games were played on a high school field, and St. Jour said there weren’t many of those in his two years at the school. St. Jour kept his focus, performing well on the field and in the classroom, where he maintained a 3.52 grade-point average.

He now moves on to an institution with a rabid fan base, which will be quite the contrast to ASA’s home crowds.

“The first day I visited there, within a couple hours I could tell there was this real family atmosphere there,” St. Jour said. “There’s a brand new coaching staff there, and everyone is optimistic and upbeat. It felt like home.”

St. Jour has dreams of one day playing in the NFL, but he knows his education is extremely important. That’s a big reason he chose Arkansas-Pine Bluff, because it had the criminal justice program he wanted.

“I liked Morgan State, too, but they only had criminal justice as a minor,” he said. “They suggested I could major in philosophy or political science, but I didn’t want that.”

St. Jour is enjoying being home in Naples, where he will stay until July. That’s when he’ll take off for Arkansas and begin the next chapter of his football and academic career.

“Since I graduated from Lely (in 2016), I feel like I’ve grown a lot,” he said. “I went through some injuries, some ups and downs but really became more focused and gained that mental toughness. Being at ASA made me grow up real quick.”

RAYNALD ST. JOUR

School: ASA College (2016 Lely graduate)

Sport: Football

Position: Center/Guard

Signed with: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Highlights: Spent two seasons at ASA College in Brooklyn, where he started on the offensive line. Part of district championship Lely squad in 2014, a team that posted first regional playoff win at the school in 27 years. An outstanding student with a 3.52 grade-point average, St. Jour plans to major in criminal justice at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

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