Imagine waking up at 5:30 a.m. every weekday, going through a 12-hour work day and returning home to finish even more work.
Most adults would find that schedule daunting, but 17-year-old Octavious James doesn't just get through it, he actually enjoys it.
"It's important to my life, to my future and to my character. And it makes me feel good," James said. "I get up every morning, I go to church and I start my day off right."
The varsity running back for Manatee High School wakes up on his own at 5:30 a.m. every weekday to attend seminary, a type of church service and Bible study, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Cortez Road. After that, he has a packed schedule, every day.
"I get up usually around 5:30 a.m. and leave my house to go to seminary at 6:15, which is like church before school. We go over our scriptures, the Bible, a couple lessons, and then we pray and end it," James said. "Then I go to school at 7:45, then after school I have football practice at 3, and that usually lasts until 5:30, then I go home and do homework and everything. Then repeat; Monday through Friday."
Most teenagers need prompting from their parents to go to church activities, but not James. He was just baptized into the Mormon church a couple of months ago, but he's been going to services for about a year. Now, he said it's a very important part of his day and his life.
"Once I started going I felt good. I was like, 'Man, I'm going to come back next Sunday, then another Sunday,'" James said. "Then I started coming to Wednesday activities, then after Wednesday activities, I started coming to seminary every day, and it just felt right -- it balanced my day."
And he balances it well, according to the people around him. James hasn't missed a single day of high school and he works hard in football practice.
John Booth, the Manatee High football coach, said James was one of the first players people were pointing out to him when he started coaching the team this season.
"He's definitely a leader, a quiet leader," Booth said. "He's the type of kid we wish all our players were like."
Claire Walz, his seminary teacher in the mornings, said his humility and motivation have been obvious to her from the beginning.
"I love him to death," she said. "He's a sweet spirit. He will always go that extra mile."
In addition to the morning classes, James also goes to Sunday services and prays four times daily. He said his favorite part of seminary is when people share their stories.
"The talks are so strong, then they bear their testimonies, and the testimonies are why you believe in the church, why you think it's true. That's my favorite part," James said. "It makes me feel so good and makes my own testimony stronger."
Bishop Mark Rice, who is also a language arts teacher at Manatee High, said he was immediately impressed by James when he met him.
"We were all immediately struck by his maturity level," Rice said. "He's so humble, but so confident at the same time."
Rice said James has had a hunger to learn all he can even since he first came to the church.
"Even prior to being baptized, he wanted to attend seminary, which is unusual," Rice said. "Getting up for church that early is a hard sell even for adults, it's amazing that he wants to do it at his age."
James said after college he thinks he wants to go on a mission trip for two years, which involves traveling to a new place to teach others about the Mormon church.
But during college, he wants to stick with football. He's hoping his time on the field at Hawkins Stadium will get him a full scholarship to play college football.
"My favorite college is obviously FSU. I've got a big spear at home, posters everywhere, hats and everything," James said. "But it doesn't matter -- whatever college gives me a full ride and the best opportunities and everything, that's the one I'll go to."
He's not sure about whether or not he eventually wants to turn professional. He said he has a lot of interests, especially in fields that have to do with helping people or medicine.
He's already taking medical classes at Manatee, and he's hoping he can take more next year that would involve shadowing actual paramedics.
"(Going pro) is one of my options, but I have a lot of options. Either being a physical therapist, or a firefighter, or a paramedic," James said. "I have a lot of things that I'd like to do."
When asked how he keeps up the motivation to go to church so early every day, James gave a noncommittal shrug.
"It makes my parents and my family really happy, it keeps me spiritually good inside and everything," he said.
"I love going there, the people there are awesome and it just motivates me to be better in life."