I thought my journey in sports was over during my sophomore year in high school. By that time, the fire I had to play sports was dying down. I no longer had the same spark.
Naturally, it was time to put away those passions and make way for new ones.
I met my now-wife during my senior year in high school, and shortly after decided that college wasn’t an option for me. I never took my academics too seriously, and my parents were already supporting my brother and sister through college. Frankly, I didn’t want to be a burden, especially if my heart wasn’t set on it.
My plan was to join the Air Force.
And on February 23rd, 2015, I left for boot camp in San Antonio, Texas.
For eight weeks, I completed my basic training in San Antonio. It was as difficult as you imagine.
Long days, brief sleep, and lots of pressure. Still, I completed it with no problem and was sent to technical training to be part of the Security Forces.
But despite missing no days of training in four and a half weeks, I was still rolled back. Not only that, I had to redo my initial training and had to get to know an entirely new team. And just like that, I was starting over.
They sent me to Whiteman AFB in Knob Noster, Missouri — a place known in the military as “Misery Missouri” because it is nowhere near any civilization.
For the next two years, I was in Missouri.
And honestly, it wasn’t so bad. You can get through anything with the right crew and the friends I made in Missouri; we share a bond that will last a lifetime.
During time off, some of us would work out and play football together.
After one of the games, a friend asked the simple question, “Why are you here?”
He laughed at the fact that I was even in the Air Force, given my talent on the football field.
“I played college football for a few years, and I just don’t understand why you aren’t playing football somewhere instead of this,” he said.
After that conversation, it hit me. It somehow reignited that spark from my early high school days.
My friend was right. I had talent, and I needed to use it.
So, it was time to get to work and put my plan into motion.
The journey from a person who could kind of play during downtime to a Division I athlete was not going to be an easy one.
I started working out like a madman.
I went from a skinny 128 lbs to a lean 178 lbs within a year. My workout regiment and work schedules were pretty intense.
I had 14 to 16-hour shifts in the Air Force, managing a long-distance relationship, and then working out in the few free hours I had left.
Seven hours of sleep? I was lucky if I got four. But I loved it. I loved putting in the work and grinding to better my life. I was doing this for me, for my future family, for my country.
Everything I did was done with passion and service in mind.
Yes, it was difficult, but it was so worth it.
After two years in Missouri, my friends and I decided to put ourselves in the portal to be sent to a different base. It was a long shot because no one ever left Missouri.
Of all my friends who submitted, only I was given orders to be sent to a new base.
Where? South Korea!
It was exciting but also challenging.
Suddenly, I was heading to the other side of the planet.
On July 10, 2017, I boarded the plane to South Korea.
South Korea was my final chapter in the Air Force. It was refreshing to have a change of pace and a new perspective on life. I got to meet new people and experience a new culture.
My work ethic was still insane as I continued to get my body in the best shape possible. I had a few friends who lifted intensely with me. They motivated me and helped push me to levels I would’ve never reached without them.
I was 100 percent locked in.
All I did was serve in the Air Force and work out.
And on December 29, 2018, I officially left the military and became a civilian.
Once I was ready to play football in college, a few schools showed interest, but nothing ever materialized.
So, I began my journey at Horry Georgetown Community College to first get my grades up.
After finishing my courses, I enrolled at Coastal Carolina for the upcoming spring semester. The plan was to walk on and make the team.
200 people tried out. Nine were selected. Not me!
So, it was back to the drawing board. At this point, I endured enough adversity in my life to know that I’d get through this as well. Somehow.
And then, Covid happened and changed all of our lives. We were on lockdown, and I did my best to turn a challenging situation into a positive one.
I worked out day and night to get my body ready for my next opportunity.
And when Coach Suber reached out, I knew exactly I wanted to play for this program. It almost felt like a calling. Everything about the school, the environment, and the coaching staff felt like the right fit.
The jubilation I felt in finally achieving my dream of being a D1 football player is indescribable. I’m so thankful for this opportunity, I can’t put it into words.
From Missouri to South Korea to South Carolina — I can’t wait to make this my best stop yet.