Super Bowl champion Tyrone Poole earns degree at Fort Valley State University

Former FVSU cornerback Tyrone Poole (center) returned to Fort Valley almost 23 years after leaving school for the NFL to finish his degree in business and give the 2018 commencement speech at the school's graduation ceremony./(Cam Gaskins, WGXA)

FORT VALLEY, Ga. -- Tyrone Poole made history in 1995 when he was selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 22nd overall pick in the NFL Draft. He was the first football player from Fort Valley State University to be selected in the first round.

He chose to leave school to pursue his career before he finished his requirements to get his degree in business. 23 years later, he finished what he started in the same place where he started.

Poole returned to Fort Valley State University this past year. Today he received his degree, and delivered the commencement address to the Class of 2018.

"This is similar to being drafted to the NFL," Poole said. "This is a one-time moment, this is something that can never be taken away. It's like winning the Super Bowl -- it's just a proud, proud moment."

After being drafted in the first round by the Panthers, Poole went on to play 14 years in the NFL -- 12 of them as a starter. He won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004.

Poole has gone on since his retirement from football to become an author, public speaker, and an entrepreneur with his family in Atlanta. But something was missing, and recently he decided that it was time to go back and finish what he started in Fort Valley.

Even though he could have finished his degree at an online school or a school closer to his home in Atlanta, Poole says it was important to him that he return to Fort Valley to finish what he started 23 years ago.

"I think a lot of times in the world, we have people that don't finish things that they start," Poole said. "Well, I'm here to let people know that, you know what? If you start something, myself I started at the Blue and Gold -- the real Blue and Gold -- I'm finishing up with the real blue and gold. We're a family, it's all about Fort Valley State University."

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