Grambling’s Class of 2019 includes nationally recognized student-athletes

De’Arius Christmas is a two-time Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Defensive Player of the Year.


GRAMBLING, LA. –  Grambling State University’s Class of 2019 includes three of the schools most historic athletes: Shakyla Hill, De’Arius Christmas, and Marc Orozco – who have broken school, conference and national records during their college sports careers.

“Our athletics programs attract some of the best and brightest students in the country,” said Dr. David Ponton, director of Athletics and Vice President of Student Affairs. “This year’s graduates are a great example of how the lessons they learn on the field can help drive academic success.”

On May 10, the university graduated a record 51 student-athletes in one ceremony and included Hill, Christmas Orozco.

Marc Orozco

Marc Orozco

Orozco, a Criminal Justice major from Denton, Texas, has served as a kicker with Grambling State’s football team since 2014. His achievements on campus include:   

  • Becoming the all-time SWAC and Grambling State record holder in points scored with 349.
  • Leading the team in scoring with 102 points.
  • Being named All-SWAC First Team.
  • Being named an BOXTOROW All-American.
  • Booting a career-long 48-yard field goal.
  • Earning STATS FC All-American status.

De’Arius Christmas  

Christmas, a two-time Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Defensive Player of the Year, has earned more than 30 academic and athletic awards during his college career. The Vicksburg, Mississippi linebacker is best known for the following achievements:

  • Leading the team in tackles with 88 during the 2017-18 season.
  • Named the SWAC Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Multiple All-SWAC FirstTeam selections.
  • STATS FCS All-American Third Team honoree.
  • BOXTOROW All-American and SBN Black College All-American.
  • National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy finalist.
  • Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) All-Academic Team Honors.
  • Grambling State Student-Athlete of the Year.
  • FCS STATS Buck Buchanan Defensive Player of the Year nominee.
Basketball standout Shakyla Hill is most well known for her two history-making quadruple-doubles.

Shakyla Hill   

Hill, most well known for her two history-making quadruple-doubles, has earned praise from ESPN, Lebron James, and many others during her college career. The 5-foot-7 women’s basketball guard from Little Rock, Arkansas’ record includes:  

  • Five College Sports Madness SWAC Player of the Week Awards.
  • Three All-SWAC First-Team Selections 3 SWAC All-Tournament Team Honors.
  • Three BOXTOROW All-American Honors 2 BOXTOROW National Player of the Year Awards.
  • Two SWAC Preseason Player of the Year Selections 2 Louisiana Sports Writer’s Association FirstTeam All-Louisiana.
  • SWAC Player of the Year Award.
  • SWAC Defensive Player of the Year Award.
  • SWAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Selection.
  • SWAC Tournament MVP.
  • United States Sports Academy Player of the Month.
  • ESPN The Undefeated HBCU Player of the Year.


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