Barry McNamara  |  Published May 05, 2023

Senior Profile: Jonathon ‘JD’ Diaz

Communication studies major aims to be a ‘prime-time player’ in world of college sports.

JD SQUARED: Diaz poses in the College's Len G. Everett Gallery with a photo of himself taken ... JD SQUARED: Diaz poses in the College's Len G. Everett Gallery with a photo of himself taken by classmate and art major Elikem Ogba.MONMOUTH, Ill. – The way Jonathon “JD” Diaz sees it, this September he’ll either be working at a football game featuring college coaching legend Nick Saban or one of his idols, Deion Sanders.

Saban and “Coach Prime” are at Alabama and Colorado, respectively. Saban’s Crimson Tide open the 2023 season with a home game against Middle Tennessee State University, while Sanders’ Buffaloes face Nebraska the following week.

A talented graphic designer and videographer with a passion for sports, Diaz entered his final week of classes at Monmouth College with several post-graduate possibilities, including graduate school at MTSU and what he said would be his “dream job” at Nebraska.

“I remember a campus visit by (1981 Monmouth graduate and trustee) Dr. Harvey Echols,” said Diaz. “He asked us, ‘What do you want to be in life?’ I realized that what I really wanted to be was the director of creative media at a Division I Power 5 conference school.”

And the Cornhuskers certainly qualify, as they’re a member of the Big Ten.

“I love college football. I love the atmosphere of it. I love how hungry the athletes are, and I love working with young people.” Jonathon Diaz


“It’s right within my grasp,” said Diaz, who had just interviewed with Nebraska. “I love college football. I love the atmosphere of it. I love how hungry the athletes are, and I love working with young people.”

Other opportunities, including a position in professional sports with the Chicago Bears – with whom he’s had a second interview – were also intriguing to Diaz, a self-proclaimed “die-hard Bears fan.”

Diaz also has the opportunity to continue his internship with SBLive Sports, which he called “the home of high school sports.” The company bills itself as “the digital destination for high school sports fans.”

Diaz has already proved his worth to SBLive, which he started working for two years ago, doing projects related to “game day hype and marketing.” He created a scoreboard ad for a high school state championship game, and the ad likely wound up playing on the scoreboard at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which hosted a Southern Section final last fall for the first time in 78 years.

He also worked on a motion graphic for the prestigious Les Schwab Invitational in Hillsboro, Oregon. Within hours of it playing at the big-time holiday basketball tournament, the graphic had more than 11,000 views.


Twice bitten by reality

Diaz named two occasions when he realized the path he was on likely wasn’t the right one. The first came midway through his time at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago.

“My first two years there, I looked myself as just an athlete. I did really bad in school. My parents said I needed to do better. That was a wake-up call.” Jonathon Diaz


“They’ve been named top 10 in the state a couple times for their academics,” said Diaz. “They really pushed us. My first two years there, I looked myself as just an athlete. I did really bad in school. My parents said I needed to do better. That was a wake-up call.”

AWARD WINNER: During the Honors Convocation on Scholars Day in April, Diaz received the J. Nevin ... AWARD WINNER: During the Honors Convocation on Scholars Day in April, Diaz received the J. Nevin Debate Prize for being the outstanding student in forensics.But being an athlete was still a high priority for Diaz, and he secured a partial football scholarship at University of Mary near Bismarck, North Dakota. Diaz might’ve been able to overcome the radical switch in geography and the ensuing homesickness, but the deciding factor was a lack of playing time his freshman year. He decided to transfer, and he recalls being impressed by the Midwest Conference championship rings displayed by Fighting Scot coaches Chad Braun and Mitch Russell.

Diaz might’ve been in the mix to be a Day One starter for the Scots in the fall of 2020, but there was a major snafu – there was no 2020 season due to the COVID pandemic.

“I was in the best shape of my life,” said Diaz. “The pandemic forced me to focus more on my academics. The more I was away from football, the more I focused on it.”

At the time, Diaz began realizing, “I’m not going to the NFL.” He first leaned toward coaching as a possibility, but then his creative side won out, thanks, in part, to taking over the social media responsibilities for Monmouth’s football team.

“My love for it kept growing and growing and growing,” said Diaz, who has also worked for REP 1 Sports and Tennessee State during his time at Monmouth. He estimates that in the fall of 2021, he was working 40 hours per week on media, both on campus and off, in addition to being a full-time student.

“That’s why I had to stop playing football,” he said. “I just didn’t have the time. But I’m a competitor, and I like to compete, so I’m taking that passion for football and that competitiveness and putting it into creative work.”

“It’s like that famous quote: ‘If you keep hanging around the same people, you’re not going to grow.’ I always want to compete to be the best version of myself possible, and if you’re not meeting different people, you can’t be that best version.” Jonathon Diaz


Diaz has also taken on a non-sports role at the College, serving as student coordinator of multimedia content for Monmouth’s Champion Miller Center. He’s taken an active role at the CMC, serving as a lead peer mentor for its Men of Distinction program. His involvement has been a major part of his growth at Monmouth.

“I’ve learned more about transformative relationships,” he said, “working with people you normally wouldn’t have. It’s like that famous quote: ‘If you keep hanging around the same people, you’re not going to grow.’ I always want to compete to be the best version of myself possible, and if you’re not meeting different people, you can’t be that best version.”

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