JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Two popular role models made an appearance at a Jacksonville middle school Tuesday to kick off a ticket giveaway for students who excel in school.

Students at Landmark Middle School were surprised when Jaguars players Rashad Jennings and Derek Cox came to visit them at a pep rally.

The school launched Winn-Dixie's A-Team program and award the first student winners of the season with tickets to a Jaguars home game.

"This will be my first time at a football game, so I'm really excited," said Austin Silvo, a winner at Landmark.

Winn-Dixie and the Jaguars wanted to spread the message of three A's -- academic, attitude and attendance.

Not only did eight students win a four-pack of home game tickets, they also met the two well-known players. Jennings and Cox both spoke on a personal level to explain their educational background and how important academics are in success.

"Explaining the benchmarks of my life to get me to where I'm at, you know, showing the man behind the helmet, it means a lot to me," said Jennings, a running back for the hometown team.

The players said getting to go out in the community and reach others is a huge perk of their jobs.

"My first NFL game was playing in one, so for them to get that experience to be out in that atmosphere, great event to feel that energy, I think it's awesome," cornerback Cox said.

Winn-Dixie also gave a $500 check to Landmark Middle. This is the seventh year of the A-Team program.