By Thomas Grant Jr.

Despite moving hundreds of miles away up North to continue playing pro football, wide receiver Jalin Hyatt still keeps close contact with his Southern roots.

The former Dutch Fork High School two-time state champion and University of Tennessee All-American made a pair of special donations to his old stomping grounds.

As part of a collaboration with Academy Sports+Oudoors’ Teacher Appreciation Week campaign, Hyatt surprised former instructors at both schools with gift cards to provide new gear for students.

On Monday, he was present to give five Knox County School District teachers each a $500 gift cart to go on a shopping spree at the Tennessee location.

“Just a lot of good people here in Knoxville, and I really think this is like my second home,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt also presented $1,000 to his high school alma mater where a drawing was held to select four recipients to receive a $250 gift card for a shopping spree at Academy Sports+Outdoors.

The winners were Megan Estes (English), Mary Waites (Math), Doug Rivers (Math and Football assistant coach) and Noah Dixon (Physical Education).

From April 2 to May 14, the teachers can shop at the nearest location and also receive a 10 percent discount off the entire purchase. Academy Sports+Outdoors have locations at 237 Park Terrace Drive in Irmo and 73 Fashion Drive in Columbia.

In presenting the gifts, Hyatt reportedly spoke fondly of his instructors at Dutch Fork, a place where he won two state football titles. At Tennessee, he had a breakout junior season in which he set single-game and single-season receiving marks and received the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver.

Hyatt was also named the S.C. Football Hall of Fame’s Blanchard/Rogers Trophy winner as the top collegiate player with South Carolina ties.

He now looks to continue his professional career with the New York Giants, who drafted him 73rd overall in the third round. Hyatt is one of two Dutch Fork players in the NFL along with Buffalo placekicker Tyler Bass.

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