BOGART — Jaxon Parker got a big surprise Thursday morning.A fourth grader at Rocky Branch Elementary School, Jaxon was feeling down and out earlier this week. His father, Kevin Parker, is a warrant officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and just deployed to an undisclosed location Monday. It was the third deployment for the father of three. He’ll be out of the country for the next 10 months.
It just so happened that Kevin Parker’s deployment fell on the same week of the final All Pro Dad breakfast of the school year. Jaxon’s uncle, Elliott Rogers, is the longtime facilitator of that group, which gathers fathers and sons monthly to break bread and discuss life lessons. So, naturally, Rodgers told Jaxon he could attend with him and his children.
Unbeknownst to Jaxon, however, Rogers took a leap and reached out to Georgia football to see if maybe a Bulldogs football player would be available to sit in with his nephew for the 45-minute event. Word reached Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who acted quickly.
Not only did he send one player, he sent two. Star receivers Adonai “A.D.” Mitchell and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint showed up for the 7 a.m. breakfast 20 minutes from campus and hung out with Jaxon the whole time.
After having a Chick-fil-A breakfast together and going through several of the father-son exercises – Thursday’s theme was what it means to be respected and to show respect – the players signed autographs and took pictures with the children and the dads before the 8 a.m. bell rang.
“They said that Jaxon’s father deployed and that he didn’t really have anybody to sit with and eat this morning at a dad-type event,” said Mitchell, who caught the go-ahead touchdown against Alabama in the national championship game in Indianapolis. “So, me and Mark came just to support him, really. We just sat there and talked, being friends with him, stuff like that.”
The players were escorted to the school by Austin Chambers, UGA’s assistant director for player development.
“Didn’t mind at all,” Rosemy-Jacksaint, rising junior wide receiver, said of rising at 6 a.m. on an otherwise off day. “We love doing these type of things.”
Mitchell said he had to get back for a morning workout afterward, while Rosemy-Jacksaint was heading to class.
“We really appreciate these players taking time out of their busy day to come out and make a little boy’s day,” Rogers said. “And we’re especially thankful to coach Smart, who responded so quickly to make this happen.”
All Pro Dad is a fatherhood program of Family First, a national nonprofit organization based in Tampa, Fla. Former NFL coach Tony Dungy is a founder, and former Georgia coach Mark Richt was a major proponent and participant.
Mitchell was the Bulldogs’ third-leading receiver this past season with 29 catches for 426 yards and four touchdowns. Rosemy-Jacksaint has battled through injuries to play in 19 games the past two seasons, including five starts. He had seven catches for 94 yards last season.