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Jets CB Sauce Gardner graduates from University of Cincinnati, honored with his own day

New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner's resumé keeps on growing heading into his second NFL season.

After making the All-Pro team, capturing the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and earning a Pro Bowl nod, Gardner completed another accomplishment -- off the football field.

Gardner returned to the University of Cincinnati to walk on Friday's commencement stage and collect his diploma a day after his Jets played in the Hall of Fame Game against Cleveland in Canton, Ohio. He continued taking classes during the spring semester and earned a degree in interdisciplinary studies.

"It kind of feels like game day," Gardner told Scott Springer of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's a box that I feel like was unchecked. My mom always told me to put school first. It's big for me and I know it's big for her as well."

Gardner was the Bearcats' highest-ever draft pick when New York selected the corner at No. 4 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.

"Officially a College Graduate. Finally made it," Gardner said in a social media post.

With Gardner graduating, the mayor proclaimed Aug. 4, 2023 as "Ahmad 'Sauce' Garner Day" in Cincinnati.

Gardner credited seeing other former Bearcats like Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce influence him to earn his degree.

"Guys like Desmond Ridder, guys like Travis Kelce, that just motivated me," Gardner said. "Travis Kelce didn't have to get his either, you know, Super Bowl champion, All-Pro, Pro Bowler, all of that. That's motivation!"

After playing a role in Gardner's continued education, Kelce and Ridder will face off against the Jets and their star CB in Week 4 and Week 13, respectively.

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