After months of uncertainty, a Marine turned college football player is just days away from playing in Middle Tennessee State University's season opener.
Steven Rhodes, 24, recently completed five years of active service in the Marines before walking onto the Blue Raiders' program.
Due to a NCAA rule, Rhodes was initially told he could not play on the school's team since he previously played organized football in the military.
After appealing the NCAA's decision, Rhodes learned last week he had been given the green light to play college football.
“After [hearing] no, after no, after no, and adversity after adversity, I mean, I had shed tears over this, so I mean, it's a blessing,” Rhodes said.
He told Nashville's News 2 on Monday he is still in disbelief after the entire country rallied for his cause.
“The whole nation got behind it,” Rhodes said, adding, “I mean it. Everything was playing out well and I mean, I'm just thanking God when they told me I could play.”
The Antioch High School alum, who is married with two young sons, said he hopes his recent battle will serve as motivation to others.
“Keep kicking it down. That's all you can do, that's all you can do. I had plenty of walls in front of me. [You have to] keep pushing through them,” he said.
The Marine said many other servicemen have thanked him for paving the way for those who are also looking to enroll in college and participate in athletics.
MTSU is set to open their season on Thursday. Rhodes said his wife, who is wrapping up her final months of active duty for the Navy, will be in attendance alongside other family members and friends.
The Blue Raiders take on Western Carolina at home beginning at 6:30 p.m.