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Health and physical education major makes calls on his future as a coach with support from National Guard and Army ROTC

Carson McClellan

When Carson McClellan graduated high school, he knew two things for certain. He wanted to coach football, and he needed to find a way to cover the costs of college.

“I knew when I played my last down of high school football that I wanted to coach college or high school football,” said McClellan. “My head football coach, Lee Chomskis, had a huge impact on me when I was in high school. I still talk to him every week. I want to impact people’s lives like he did mine. I think that played a big part in why I wanted to take the next step to work with young men in the athletic arena.”

To assist with college tuition, McClellan joined the Georgia Army National Guard. After graduating from high school, he completed basic training before enrolling as an education major at East Georgia State College. While this is his first semester as a health and physical education student at Georgia Southern University, McClellan said that he already loves it and feels like he’s been here longer. And in some ways, he has.

As a guardsman enrolled in college, McClellan is able to report to Georgia Southern’s National Guard Detachment, allowing him to complete drill weekends on the Statesboro Campus rather than travel to an assigned unit in the state.

McClellan also found a home on the Georgia Southern Eagles football coaching staff. As an intern working with the tight ends, McClellan has served more than a year with the team. On game days, you can find him making play calls on the sidelines.

“I signal in our offensive signals,” he explained. “I get the play from the offensive coordinator, and I signal it to the quarterback. It’s a pretty big deal. At other schools they have their backup quarterbacks do it, but here, we let our student assistants do it. The first time I did it I was nervous, but after the first couple of calls you settle in.”

The internship fulfills a passion, but is also giving McClellan valuable work experience for his career ahead, none of which would be possible without his scholarship and support from the National Guard and Army ROTC.

McClellan on the sidelines for the Georgia Southern Football team.

“When they say they will pay for all of your college expenses, they absolutely mean it,” he said. “If I wasn’t both in the Guard and ROTC, I would probably have to work, which wouldn’t allow me to be a student assistant for the football team. It has all worked out so well, and both the Guard and ROTC work with me on my schedule for classes and my internship.”

An average day for McClellan is nothing short of a full schedule. Starting at 6 a.m, McClellan leads a company of cadets in physical training before heading to Nevils Elementary School for field experience in health and physical education from 8 to 11:30 a.m. He then attends classes on the Statesboro Campus, followed by meetings with the football coaching staff on the practice  fields until 8:30 p.m.

“That’s just on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,” he said, laughing. “But I wouldn’t change a thing. I love what I do. I love being in the Army. I love the path that I took. Coming into it, I had not even planned on joining the military. But my path has altered, and I love where it’s brought me. I love Georgia Southern and the health and physical education program, and I look forward to whatever the future holds for me.”

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