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Thirty-Three LSU Student-Athletes Earn Degrees

by Michael Bonnette (@LSUBonnette)
Thirty-Three LSU Student-Athletes Earn Degrees

BATON ROUGE – Thirty-three LSU student-athletes representing 14 Tiger sports were among students who participated in fall commencement ceremonies held Friday on LSU’s campus.

Nicole Kantor of women’s tennis graduated Cum Laude with a degree in mass communication. A three-time ITA Scholar Athlete selection, Kantor notched an 80-65 career singes record and picked up All-Louisiana Second-Team honors in 2009.

Football shared the top honors with eight graduates highlighted by a trio of defensive standouts Lazarius Levingston, Drake Nevis and Kelvin Sheppard. Both Nevis and Sheppard were named All-SEC First-Team performers by the Associated Press and SEC Coaches. Nevis, who also earned second-team All-America honors, headlined the Tigers with 13 tackles for loss, six sacks and three forced fumbles, while Sheppard racked up a team-best 108 tackles to eclipse the century mark in each of the last two seasons.

Track and field also tallied eight graduates sparked by NCAA All-Americans Will Coppage and Jamaal James. Coppage burst onto the scene as a freshman and garnered a fifth-place finish in the long jump at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Championships. He was a two-time All-American as a member of LSU’s 4×100-meter relay team. James secured three NCAA Indoor All-American picks in the 800 meters during the 2007 and 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships. He also was a vital part of the distance medley relay team.   

On the women’s side, Kim Williams was an All-SEC hammer thrower in 2009 after a runner-up finish at the outdoor championships. She also competed at the NCAA Championships in 2010.

Soccer produced a quartet of graduates. Malorie Rutledge was the most decorated player to ever wear the LSU uniform after being named a three-time All-American. She racked up 2008 and 2009 SEC Offensive Player of the Year award. Her 46 assists and 28 goals are second and fourth on LSU’s career list, respectively.  

Three gymnasts walked across the stage to collect their degrees. Susan Jackson has collected a multitude of prestigious awards, including 2009-2010 Roy F. Kramer SEC Female Athlete of the Year, the Honda Sports Award and 2010 SEC Gymnast of the Year. A winner of 12 All-American honors during her career, Jackson captured the first NCAA All-Around national title in LSU history and also won the NCAA Balance Beam title in 2010. 

Women’s basketball star Allison Hightower, a member of the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun who graduated in the spring of 2010, walked across the stage on Friday. Hightower was unable to attend graduation last spring due to the WNBA schedule so she was allowed to participate in Friday’s ceremony. Hightower was a two-time All-America who finished her LSU career with 1,509 points and 89 blocked shots

After earning 2009 SEC Player of the Year, Brittnee Cooper joined Monique Adams and Angie Miller as the only volleyball players in school history to earn AVCA All-American First-Team status. Her .409 hitting percentage in 2009 was a program single season record. She also ranked fifth with 504 career total blocks.  

Softball was represented by Rachel Mitchell, who finished her career as LSU’s all-time home run leader. The historic blast came during a nationally-televised contest against Georgia in 2010. She garnered multiple NFCA All-South Region honorees. The LaPorte, Texas, product also is among LSU’s Top 7 in nine other offensive categories, including hits, RBIs and runs scored.  

Below is a complete list of graduates and their area of study.

Rachel Mitchell, Softball, Agricultural Business
Richard Dugas, Football, Management
Cody Loup, Tennis, Accounting

Courtney Alexander, Soccer, Kinesiology
Chris Bless, Track & Field, Kinesiology
Nicole Crochet, Golf, Sport Administration
Sabrina Franceschelli, Gymnastics, Elementary Education
Kyle Hecker, Track & Field, Kinesiology
Jerel Hill, Track & Field, Sport Administration
Susan Jackson, Gymnastics, Sport Administration
Kim Williams, Track & Field, Sport Administration

Zach Elkins, Football, Construction Management
John Humphries, Golf, Civil Engineering

Humanities and Social Studies
Chandra Bush, Soccer, General Studies
Brittnee Cooper, Volleyball, Sociology
Will Coppage, Track & Field, Sociology
Daniel Graff, Football, General Studies
Allison Hightower, W. Basketball, General Studies
Michael Hollander, Baseball, Communication Studies
Summer Hubbard, Gymnastics, General Studies
Antonio Hudson, Basketball, General Studies
Jamaal James, Track & Field, Communication Studies
Lazarius Levingston, Football, General Studies
Brittany Lowe, Soccer, English
Drake Nevis, Football, General Studies
Marcus Price, Football, General Studies
Malorie Rutledge, Soccer, General Studies
Kelvin Sheppard, Football, General Studies
Joseph Simuchimba, Track & Field, General Studies
Mark Snyder, Football, General Studies
Sean Swanner, Track & Field, International Studies

Mass Communication
Leigh Ann King, Swimming & Diving, Mass Communication
Nicole Kantor*, Tennis, Mass Communication

*Graduating Cum Laude