Grambling linebacker, former Warren Central star Christmas named SWAC’s top defender again

Published 8:00 am Friday, November 30, 2018

When he talks about his college football career and the success he’s had in it, De’Arius Christmas is well aware of what it means in the grander scheme of things.

“It shows how I want to live. It shows how I want my kids to see me. It shows how I want to show the city and the folks that sent me what you can do and who you can touch by doing those things,” Christmas said. “There’s so much going on around my city and in the families. The more success you have and the better you carry yourself in the things you’re doing, it touches. Every little thing you do, it might catch their eye.”

Christmas has certainly caught the eye of plenty in the college football world and beyond.

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The Grambling linebacker and former Warren Central star on Thursday was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. He’s the first person to win the award in back-to-back seasons since Mississippi Valley State’s Terry Houzah in 1997-98.

Christmas had 55 tackles this season, including 11 for loss, and led Grambling with 5 ½ sacks.

“I can tell my kids that when they grow older,” Christmas said. “They can see all of the things that their father did, or their brother or uncle or cousin did. I do it for them coming up. I’ve been wanting to set a platform for those guys to go get.”

While Christmas has been setting the standard on defense in the SWAC for two seasons, he’s more proud of some of his accomplishments off the field.

The senior has a 3.82 GPA and is on track to graduate in May with a degree in engineering technology. He received the United States Marine Corps Excellence in Leadership award before last week’s Bayou Classic game against Southern University, and is one of 13 national finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy as college football’s top scholar-athlete.

The Campbell Trophy will be presented Tuesday at the National Football Foundation Awards Dinner in New York.

Christmas embraces being a leader and role model. He wants the recognition for his leadership and work in the classroom to set an example for others rather than bask in the spotlight himself.

“It’s definitely not about me. That’s what makes it feel so good,” Christmas said. “I’ve got siblings coming up and hopefully every little thing that I do puts them on the right path. How many guys do you see get in trouble every week? That’s what I do it for. If I can’t catch the group, I can get one out of the group and keep them from going down the wrong path.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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