War in Iraq shapes character of student-athlete Jake Sheffield
"This is not a story about war; it's a story about football," writes Kevin Gemmell, of ESPN.com. "This is not a story about Jake Sheffield, former corporal in the United States Marine Corps. It's a story about Jake Sheffield, defensive tackle for Arizona State University."
Inspired by the legacy of Pat Tillman, former ASU football player and fallen soldier, Sheffield joined the military to serve his country in two tours in Iraq. Now having returned from war and enrolled at ASU, where he is a student-athlete participating in football, Sheffield uses the same drive on the football field that propelled him while fighting overseas.
"Now I push myself in school," Sheffield told Gemmell. "And especially in football. When I was out of the game, I really missed it. There was a hole inside of me. I always had a passion for playing football. I'm really just trying to soak in the whole experience and be thankful for everything I do have."
Gemmell writes that new Arizona State head football coach Todd Graham should be thankful as well, "because Sheffield is exactly the kind of man he needs around as he tries to overhaul ASU on and off the field. Graham has been pushing culture change – a real yes sir, no sir type of attitude. He's not going to find a better poster boy than a former Marine."
"He's tailor-made for us," Graham told Gemmell. "When you walk in the meeting room, he stands out because he sits up straight. He exemplifies what we're all about."