(Photo courtesy Ohio University)

I might not have had an offer to show for it, but that didn't mean I began to doubt my abilities. I knew I could still play, and so I decided to send a bunch of emails to all the D1 schools who needed a quarterback for the 2016 season. My family and I did our research, looking at every single FBS (bowl teams) and FCS (formerly 1AA) school who might have needed a quarterback. We ended up sending about 20 emails....and got one rejection. We couldn't even get a response on the others.

I thought at first it was a punishment from God for not being as solid in my faith, but that was the wrong way of thinking. Sometimes we try to understand life and God's vision, but a lot of times it's something that we can't fully wrap our minds around. He gave me the talent to help glorify Him, but maybe he needed to give me a compelling story to go along with it.

I also reflected back on the story of Paul, who wrote more of the New Testament than anybody else. But as you may know, Paul's journey was not an easy one, and he even spoke to God about a thorn in his side. "My grace is sufficient for you in your time of weakness," God told Paul, and I tried to remember that Paul trusted Him throughout the journey.

During my senior year I had interest from some junior colleges and 2-year institutions, so I decided to pack my bags and head to Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. Unlike all the D1 schools who took almost no interest in me, FSCC coach Curtis Horton drove all the way to my high school to visit me. At that point it was an easy choice: I was spending my freshman year at Fort Scott.

When I finished my first season at FSCC, I finally had the notoriety to talk with D1 schools. I am so glad I never burned any bridges during those lean times, because one of those schools that had rejected me was Ohio University. I was fortunate enough to receive interest from them after my freshman year, and I made the trip over to Athens.

The night before I was scheduled to head back, I prayed on the decision. When I woke up the next day I decided I wanted to be a Bobcat, and just like that the long wait was over. I tried to keep the decision quiet, but once some of my friends found out, one former teammate after another started reaching out to me to send their congratulations. It was a reminder that I was never as alone in Alabama as I thought I was.

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Thomas Hager