By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (August 21, 2017) — Speaking at a national signing day celebration in February, Tarleton State football head coach Todd Whitten spoke fondly of one player in particular, not because he was an overly impressive athlete who figures to have a great career ahead at Tarleton, but because of what he had already done in her,vice of our country.
Written said when he’s wrapping up a recruiting trip to a junior college he always makes it a point o ask if there was anyone that other schools may not be on who has a unique story, something the makes him a special person to have in their program.
A special teams coach overheard Whitten and before long was introducing him to special teams captain Jacob Kaspar. At 6-0, 175, the coach couldn’t have been overly impressed. He had just met with Xavier Turner, who two falls earlier, rushed for more than 2,900 yards as a senior at Birdsville High School, and Deon Sppard a 6-4, 295 pounds.
But sometimes it’s the size of the man inside, not the size of pads he wears, that makes him special.
Kaspar, you see, was late getting into the college game because he spent five years serving our country as an infantryman in the US Marines.
The Flash Today sports editor Brad Keith caught up with Kaspar at last week’s team media day and they enjoyed a brief Q&A shedding some light on the Tarleton newcomer’s military career, leadership development and what it’s like going from a military leader to just another body on the player trying to make it on the college gridiron.
BK- So you were in the military, how long, what branch and what did you do?
JK – I spent five years in the infantry in the Marines. I enlisted at 17 and once I turned 18, I was deployed. Shortly after, I became a squad leader in charge of 12 guys.
BK – Deployed you said… Where to and what for?
JK – We were security trying to win over the hearts and minds of the Afghans so they would turn to us and not to the Taliban. Then, we went to Japan with other forces from around the world working for prosperity around the Pacific. It taught me a lot about discipline, that’s for sure.
BK – What was it like going from being a kid in military service to now the older guys in the room around young college football players?
JK – The Military really is a young man’s game, most the guys are 18 to 24 and a to of them do their four years then get out and go to college. I was the younger guy, and I made squad leader at 18 and was in charge of 12 guys, some of them like 24 years old. so I’m used to being the younger guy but in charge, and now I’ve gone from that to being the older guy who is really just another player. That’s been the biggest difference for me.
BK – What did you take with you from your time in the service that will help you not just as a football player but your whole life?
JK – Just that you always have to be disciplined and be prepared and looking out of the best interest of your team, especially as a squad leader. That really taught me to look after not just myself but always be thinking about what’s in the best interest of the entire group. That’s what they’re counting on you for.