Nate Ozdemir is taking one for his country. Because, ‘Merica.
After much deliberation and soul-searching, the Florida Atlantic linebacker decided last week to leave not only the Owls football program but the sport entirely. Why? To begin a career in the military.
Per Ozdemir, his first choice is the Marine Corps, while “[flying] for the Army or any other branch” is another option. From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Ozdemir said his goal is to complete Officer Candidate School (OCS) with the Marine Corps in Quantico, Va., later this year and become a second lieutenant in the Marines. He would spend 10 weeks at OCS before returning to Boca Raton to finish his last semester at FAU and graduate in December.
Ozdemir is also a pilot, and was recently offered a full-time position at the Boca Raton airport to be an instructor. He said he would need to fly 40 more hours to qualify, but that that goal is more attainable without football.
Fearful that an injury in football his final season would hamper, even temporarily, his military aspirations, Ozdemir decided to call it quits. He also feels it’s his duty to serve his country.
“I just feel like as a grown, dominant male figure in this country, I kind of owe it to them,” Ozdemir said. “I just don’t feel like it’s fair for other people my age going and putting their lives on the line to do that kind of thing when I’m just as healthy, I’m just as fine, just as qualified to it, if not more qualified.”
Ozdemir would’ve been a fifth-year senior in 2017. In 2016, he started the first eight games of the season at middle linebacker before going down with a broken foot that cost him the remainder of the year. He was expected to be a starter again this coming season.
While no longer a part of the team, Ozdemir is going to try to be around his now-former teammates as much as possible, a tack that FAU’s first-year head coach has signed off on.
“He’s got our support,” Lane Kiffin said. “We would have loved to have him. He’s a leader, so I talked to him about keeping him around in any way as much as we can.”