BOCA RATON – Starting FAU middle linebacker Nate Ozdemir has left the team to pursue a career in the armed forces. .
“It was time to make a big boy decision,” Ozdemir said. “I didn’t want to pursue the NFL. I wanted to be a soldier.”
Ozdemir, who said that he is still on track to graduate in December 2017, has long made his goal of joining the United States Marine Corps clear. For that reason, Ozdemir was put on scholarship by FAU with both parties aware he would eventually pursue a military career.
Why a military career?
“I always had a calling and a sense of duty,” Ozdemir said. “I just feel like as a grown, dominant male figure in this country, that I owe it to [those currently serving] and I don’t feel like it’s there for other people my age to be putting their lives on the line when I’m just as healthy and just as qualified, if not more qualified.”
First-year FAU coach Lane Kiffin spoke with Ozdemir prior to the official decision.
“We’re in support of what he’s doing and it’s his decision not to be on the team,” Kiffin said. “It’s his decision to pursue a different career.”
Kris Harris and Jacob Douglas have occupied the middle during the spring. Ozdemir hadn’t been fully cleared to practice after undergoing offseason foot surgery.
A key member of the defense the past two seasons, the rising redshirt senior had five games last year with six or more tackles, including a 16 tackle game against Marshall. In a five game stretch against Miami, Ball State, FIU, Charlotte, and Marshall, Ozdemir averaged eight tackles per outing.
Ozdemir did acknowledge, however, that his injury history – a shoulder injury, a broken foot that prematurely ended his 2016 season, and a history of concussions – may prevent him from being able to enlist.
Before reporting to the Officer Candidate School (OCS) to prepare for service, Ozdemir – who has a private pilot’s license – hopes to serve as a flight instructor at Boca Raton Airport once his remaining 40 hours in the air are completed.
Ozdemir said is thrilled to have the chance to combine flying with getting his body into shape.
“Football shape and military shape are two completely different things,” Ozdemir chuckled.