Hunt-Days’ parents ready to pull him from school

With size, strength and a taste for punishing ball carriers, Georgia Tech defensive end Jabari Hunt-Days would seem to have a reasonable shot at a pro football career. Hunt-Days’ parents, though, are willing to risk it in order for their son to learn a broader lesson.

Calvin Days, Jabari’s father, said that it is his and wife Paula’s wish that his son be released from his scholarship until he proves he is serious about his schoolwork.

“We’re not going to support him being at Georgia Tech or anywhere else until there’s a change in behavior because it’s a slap in everyone’s face,” he said.

Hunt-Days became academically ineligible at the end of the spring semester, his father said, because he failed a class that counts towards his degree, putting him behind an NCAA-mandated checkpoint that measures progress towards graduation. More to the point, Calvin Days said, his son failed the class because he skipped classes and didn’t turn in assignments.

“Your job is to go to class,” Days said. “What you’re doing (by not going to class) is you’re stealing.”

Days did not fault anyone other than his son for his situation and particularly supported head coach Paul Johnson. During Johnson’s tenure, the team has performed well in the classroom on a wide scale. The Yellow Jackets were recognized last week for having an Academic Progress Rate score in the top 10 percent of FBS.

“I can tell you over the past four or five years in dealing with (Johnson), we’ve had a number of personal conversations and nobody can tell me he doesn’t care about those kids,” said Days, who also sent his eldest son Synjyn to play for Tech and Johnson.

Synjyn and Jabari were raised in a framework of obedience and accountability, Synjyn said Monday. He and Jabari had to run or do push-ups if they didn’t do their homework or were caught lying. When Synjyn didn’t take the trash out, his father made him haul the trash can to the nearest Dumpster about a mile away.

“Growing up, I hated that, but looking back on it now, it was all for a positive outcome,” Synjyn said.

The possibility exists that Hunt-Days could remain on scholarship and practice with the team until he regains his eligibility. If he were to do that, he would be eligible to play in 2015 as a senior. But, Calvin Days said, he would want his son to have to pay his own way if he and his wife are not convinced about a change in attitude.

Further, he said he wouldn’t support him transferring or trying to jump to the NFL, which he could do by entering the league’s supplemental draft.

It goes without saying that the Days’ approach is unusual. Days spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday, as the NFL draft was in full swing. The draft was full of players who saw college as a means to their goal of playing professionally.

“We’re talking about the rest of his life, not will this hurt his chances for pro football?” Days said. “I would rather him not play football and grow up and assume responsibility for the things that are important.”

A pro career is hardly an idle dream. Hunt-Days is a two-year starter and was third on the team in tackles as a freshman in 2012. Last year, his playing time was limited since he didn’t play on the defense’s nickel package, which was used a majority of the time. This spring, with the team shifting to the nickel as its base defense and adjusting to the loss of All-American Jeremiah Attaochu, Hunt-Days was moved to Attaochu’s rush end spot. The move went well enough during spring practice to be deemed permanent.

“I know he’s hurting,” Days said. “I want to hug him and make it better. I want (to say), ‘We’re going to make it work.’ But that’s probably the worst thing I can do right now. That’s the difficult piece.”