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Home : News : News Features
NEWS | Jan. 1, 2020

Citizen-Warrior: Guard Soldier melds military, gridiron experience

By Stephanie Beougher Ohio National Guard

ATHENS, Ohio – Army 2nd Lt. Devin King puts on his uniform when on duty with the Ohio Army National Guard's Battery C, 1st Battalion, 134th Field Artillery Regiment. He puts on a different uniform weekends during college football season, as the long snapper on Ohio University's team.

King, like many other Ohio National Guard members, is also a college student.

He enlisted in May 2014 while still a senior at Sheridan High School in Thornville, Ohio, because he planned to go to Ohio University in Athens to wrestle. Without a scholarship, King needed a way to pay the tuition. Enlisting enabled him to do so.

"My father recommended looking into the Guard to help pay for school and I took that opportunity," King said. "I also viewed it as a great way to serve my community and country."

Once at Ohio, he joined the university's Army ROTC program and was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant.

In early 2018, his roommate talked him into trying out for the football team — not much of a stretch since King played football in high school. His skills impressed the coaches and he made the team as a walk-on. When an injury sidelined the starting long snapper during the first game of the season, King stepped in.

This year, he has the starting job and a full scholarship.

"I remember the week before the first game [last season] thinking, 'Wow, I'm really playing [NCAA] Division I football,'" he said. "Stepping into that starting role full time really meant a lot to me. I put in a lot of practice time during the summer and it really paid off."

King graduated with a bachelor's degree in health service administration in December 2018, and he's on target to earn his master's in coaching education. Next on his list of goals: attend the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course and play in the NFL. In the meantime, he continues to balance life as a Soldier and student-athlete, to be the best warrior-athlete he can be for both his teams.

"I think there are a lot of great lessons and values the military can give you to help prepare you to be a student-athlete," he said. "Working together as a cohesive team in the military to accomplish a task or mission can be directly carried over to sports, to help lead and bring teammates together to work toward the common goal we have of being conference champions and successful on the national scale."

King also credits his military experience for giving him the tools to handle time management and prioritizing tasks.

His experience may have influenced his younger brother, Chance, who also enlisted. His brother, a private first class, earned recognition as distinguished honor grad after completing basic training. He's now at advanced individual training to learn skills for his job as an air defense battle management system operator.

"Chance thinks very highly of me, as I do of him, and he has the same drive to go above and beyond expectations that are set for him," King said. "I couldn't be more proud of him and the success he has had early in his career."

King has set an example for his little brother as he finds success on the football field, in the classroom and in the Ohio Army National Guard.