By Jessica Kartalija

BALTIMORE (WJZ)–High school athletes from across Maryland got a lesson from a Super Bowl champion Monday.

Jessica Kartalija reports it’s part of a program that teaches students that what happens off the field affects all aspects of their performance.

He’s a NFL superstar, but Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith isn’t talking about his work on the field.

“A lot of people want to make it to the professional ranks, but you can’t make it to where I am now if you aren’t working hard in the classroom, making great decisions both on and off the field,” Smith said.

The Powered by Me student athlete conference draws more than 500 students from schools across Maryland.

“The fundamental message of this conference is, the decisions they make about the way to improve their athletic performance have the ability to impact decisions they are going to make throughout their life,” said Dr. Mohan Suntha, president, St. Joseph Medical Center.

Congressman Elijah Cummings introduced Smith, who says his graduation was his proudest achievement.

“It’s the only thing that no one can take away from you. Once you earn that degree, it’s yours and without an education, sports really means nothing. As a student athlete, you’ve got to recognize that you are a student first and an athlete second. You’ve got to prioritize that. Anyone can play a game and not everyone can graduate,” Smith said.

Students got the message.

“It was just a good day,” one student said. “A lot of people came to talk to us about not doing dumb things off the field.”

“It was really cool,” said another student. “I learned that everything that goes on the Internet doesn’t come off.”

“You should be really careful when you do things on the Internet and online, and you should not take drugs and play sports. It was about a variety of things you can learn in life,” a student said.

This is the eighth Powered by Me conference in Maryland. The program was started in 2007 to address the issue of performance enhancing drugs.

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