Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Bright futures ahead for Rockets' football graduates

13 UT players have earned undergrad degrees, most in MAC

University of Toledo senior offensive lineman Nate Jeppesen has little idea what he wants to do when his college football career is done.

However, by obtaining his undergraduate degree in Sports Administration and working toward a Master’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Administration, he knows he is set up for a future apart from football.

“That’s very important to me, because I don’t know where I am going after this,” Jeppesen said. “I have an internship that I already have set up that I’m going to do in the spring. I will have my master’s degree completely done by next semester, so that is two degrees completely paid for, and that will mean a lot for my future. No matter what I do, I know that I will have two degrees that I will be able to put that on a resume, and that will be worth its weight in gold.”

Jeppesen is just one of 13 players on the Rockets’ roster who already have completed their undergraduate degree and are working toward a graduate degree. That is the most in the Mid-American Conference, and is tied for the fourth most of any Division I football program in the country.

The list of graduates include Liam Allen, Daniel Davis, Kennedy Frazier, Jeppesen, Malik Jones, Michael Julian, Sami Kassem, Jack Linch, Marquise Moore, Brad Spelman, Samuel Vucelich, Brant Weiss, and Logan Woodside.

In a special touch this season, the MAC is providing a “MAC Graduate Patch” to go on the jerseys of the 56 conference players who have earned their undergraduate degrees.

“That’s really cool,” Jeppesen said of the patch. “I didn’t even notice it until we had picture day and someone pointed it out. It’s pretty cool, because the 13 of us have gone through [expletive] and back to get to where we are. I think that’s really cool to have, and I take great pride in wearing that.”

Woodside, who double majored in Sales and Marketing for his undergraduate degree and also is pursuing a Master’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Administration, said he also is proud to wear the graduate patch on his jersey.

“I didn’t know they were doing that until this year,” Woodside said. “That’s something you should definitely be proud of. To have your degree and still be playing, not a lot of people in the country are doing that, so it’s special to have that.”

The Toledo players work hard each and every day to balance a challenging academic load with the rigors of playing football.

“It just shows that from an academic standpoint, the advisors are on us 24-7 and we really work around the clock to get our school work done,” Woodside said. “That’s something that is really important to us. For 13 guys to have their degree already, that is really solid.”

Jeppesen will have an internship in the spring with the Special Olympics of Ohio. He said he is undecided on what kind of career he wants to pursue, but he knows he wants to work with kids and doesn’t want to be tied down to a desk job.

He said he is proud of how Toledo has prepared him for life after football, and all the players already with a diploma proves the university and the football program are committed to the future of their student-athletes.

“That just means that we are preparing young men for the future,” Jeppesen said. “I think that is important, because not only do you need to be a good football player when you come here on scholarship or not on scholarship, they need to build you into men. Sometimes that doesn’t get taken into account. It is football this, football that, NFL this, NFL that. Coach [Jason] Candle says all the time that football is going to be taken away from you at some point and not by choice. What are you going to do when you are done? I know for sure that with both my degrees from my five years being here, I will be set up for whatever it is that comes my way.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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