FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Though Colorado State University’s football program didn’t perform to the expectations of many fans this season, the crowd still had one player to root especially for. Joshua Griffin, a senior walk-on football player, was the oldest athlete in D-1 football during the 2019-2020 season.
Griffin, 33, walked on as part of the Army’s Green to Gold program. Before attending CSU, he was commonly referred to as U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Griffin. The Green to Gold program allowed him to attend college while also receiving his standard pay from the military.
“It had to have been from God for me to come here,” Griffin told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “I’ve been in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.”
Just two years ago Griffin was tying the strings of his army boots, instead of the cleats for a game. Griffin, an aspiring NFL prospect, said he chose to enlist at the age of 19 instead of pursuing a collegiate career in track or football.
“Every male in my family has joined at some time,” Griffin said. “It’s an experience I wish everybody had.”
During his time in the Army, Griffin was able to grow his leadership skills while also maturing as a man. After a meeting with Head Coach Mike Bobo, Griffin knew he wanted to be a part of the team.
“There’s really not much difference between athletics and the military. Same spirit, different church,” Griffin said.
During his time in the military Griffin interacted with former athletes regularly. He was stationed, and fought, with soldiers who entered the military after graduating college.
“Once they finish their careers, they go in to the military,” Griffin said.
Griffin said he never imagined he would do the opposite, by playing college sports after a career in the military.
“When I had the opportunity, I was like, ‘Why not play football? It may not be the NFL. But, it is still football,’” Griffin said.
Though he may not see much time on the field during the game, Griffin said he wanted give his all at any position he was asked to play.
“It has been an experience, and I love every second of it. That little bit of pain you get from hitting, I remember feeling alive. It felt amazing. It was like I was reborn,” Griffin said. “Whatever role they have me play, I do it to the best of my ability with maximum effort. Because, every day I breathe is a blessing from God.”
Griffin admitted his teammates haze him for his age, all out of love.
“I’ve heard father time. Mr. Bengay. I like Benjamin Button, I think I will use that one more,” Griffin said.
With aspirations to continue play in to the NFL, Griffin said he would continue to work on his game. However, if that does not happen, he said he would be interested in rejoining the Army or running for political office.
Even if his stats aren’t padded in the score book, Griffin said he hoped his time on the CSU football team would encourage his teammates and other soldiers.
“It is never too late,” Griffin said. “There is life outside the military. You are not defined by the stripe on your shoulder. If you can touch one person, it is better than a (win). But, it doesn’t mean that we don’t want the W.”