ATLANTA – ESPN not only closed out another successful installment of The Home Depot College Football Awards last night, but the event marked the completion of the first ESPN Ambassadors initiative aimed at integrating local college students studying media and/or communications into the multiple media activities surrounding the nationally-televised show.
Using the show as a live learning lab, the program’s inaugural student class (selected by their professors): Henry Clopton (Sr., Georgia State), Jordan Frank (Jr., Clark Atlanta), Darveon Hyde (Jr., Clark Atlanta), Autumn Johnson (Jr., Kennesaw State) and Racquel Yeedia (Jr., Georgia State), heard from ESPN reporters, analysts and producers; observed media events and press conferences; watched rehearsals; got familiar with the show rundown and attended a 30 for 30 film screening for media.
On show night, the students were assigned opportunities aligned with their interests, taking on the roles of reporter, publicist or athlete escort. They all quickly learned though that what is written on paper often plays out entirely different once the doors open.
Yeedia, who assisted with a brisk media check-in at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta, said, “People are coming in so fast-paced, it was a challenge to do my task and keep my composure.”
Johnson honed her reporting skills on the red carpet while the rest escorted finalists to it.
Hyde saw firsthand the difficulty in completing a seemingly straightforward task.
He said, “It was kind of crazy because a lot of fans were trying to get the players to give them autographs.”
When not watching the show or interacting with the award winners, the students received candid advice from David Pollack and Samantha Ponder about how to break into broadcasting, with Pollack imparting, “You better know your stuff. . . if you don’t know your stuff, nobody’s going to listen to you.”
Christopher Daniel, an Atlanta journalist and Georgia State journalism professor who was covering the show, witnessed his students in action and said, “It’s one thing to read about it or have demonstrations in class, but it’s another thing to see the speed it takes and how attentive you have to be. To me, this is way better than the classroom, this is the classroom.”
In the video above, three of the ESPN Ambassadors talk about what they learned and greet a football hero. In the video below, Georgia State journalism professor Christopher Daniel talks about the ESPN Ambassadors program.
Keri Potts produced the videos above and below.