The recent story in the Lincoln Journal Star, written by Gwyneth Roberts on former Navy SEAL, Damien Jackson, making the transition from professional warrior to collegiate football player highlights some critical traits that made Jackson successful and future veterans have a lot to learn from this. The Nebraska coaching staff saw a guy with a burning desire to achieve his goals through unparalleled work ethic and a never quit mentality. His approach to making the team at Nebraska is undoubtedly a testament to his character and the young man he was shaped into through SEAL training and his experiences during his time in service.
We are confident there are hundreds of men like Jackson in the US military with superior, raw physical talent and the ability to make an impact for a college football team, whether D1 or D3, character and leadership are attributes every coach yearns from his players. The differentiating factor here is Jackson’s maturity and ability to set a goal and do whatever it takes to ensure the coaching staff saw the value he could bring to their team.
No matter how strong, tough, or disciplined one might be coming out of the military; these men are at a disadvantage in the sense they have not played the game for 4-plus years and coaches’ recruiting efforts are aimed at the young talent coming directly out of high school. Every coach is looking for the drive,maturity, confidence, and toughness a veteran can bring to their team but veterans need to put themselves in a position to earn that opportunity to play.
As a veteran, you need to put in the hours after work to get in football specific shape, adhere to application deadlines, and put yourself on a coach’s map! Nothing is given to you, just as Jackson did, you must prove beyond a doubt that you can make a difference for a football program. The opportunity exists; the question is do you want it as bad as Jackson does?