Student Athlete of the Week: Jon Gaines II – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

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UCLA offensive lineman Jon Gaines II has been named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll for six quarters (Amanda Scurlock/LA Sentinel)

When receiving college football program offers, senior offensive lineman Jon Gaines II kept his studies in mind. He knew UCLA would be a cohesive blend of solid football competition and impactful learning. Gaines II even attended a class session before committing to the Bruins.

“I was more into the colleges and I knew UCLA was playing high-level football,” he said. “My main deciding factors were academics first and football second.”

Gaines II was committed to Princeton before head coach Chip Kelly showed interest. Kelly was talking to the college players. Gaines II also had a plan for his studies, he wanted to learn more about race, ethnicity and politics.

“I knew I was going to major in political science since I was 16. I knew I wanted to graduate in three years,” he said. “What I really like about UCLA is that a lot of classes overlap as well, so I was able to take a lot of African American studies classes and then it helped me get my degree with a major and a minor in three years.”

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Prioritizing academics would put Gaines II on the sporting director’s honor roll for six terms.

Gaines II is currently enrolled in the Transformative Coaching and Leadership graduate program at the UCLA School of Education. In December, Gaines II will graduate with his master’s degree.

For Gaines II, the political landscape and football are all about people and relationships. A football locker room is “America’s most ideologically sound version” for Gaines II because it is about a group of people from diverse backgrounds and beliefs working together.

“You have a dressing room that has people coming from all over the world and all over the country,” he said. “I had to figure out how to talk to people who didn’t have the same cultural background as me and figure out how I could relate better to them.”

African-American studies classes interested Gaines II throughout his time at UCLA. His favorite was a Black Core class.

“I think we’ve gone through so many movies that I’ve watched and understood the social commentary, especially from directors like Jordan Peele,” Gaines II said. “Everything that’s hidden in this African-American landscape is really interesting to me because understanding that black history is American history.”

Gaines II has played every position on the offensive line. For two consecutive seasons, he helped UCLA average more than 200 rushing yards per game. In the 2021 season, the Bruins were 14e in the nation in haste attack.

Apart from his studies and football, Gaines II enjoys cooking. He took on the responsibility of cooking for the team‘s 4th of July meal. He hopes to recruit young players to help cook the team’s Thanksgiving dinner later in the season. Gaines II enjoys cooking homemade pasta and rice dishes.

“I want to make the best dish possible,” Gaines II said. “I think cookies are an expression of love and I want something someone loves.”

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