Even now, I still get the chills just thinking about it.
There's nothing like Game Day here at Wake Forest. When you walk into that locker room, it's hard not to get excited. First there's your jersey, with your name on it, waiting for you at your locker. Then when you put on your pads and helmet, and make that first jog out into BB&T Stadium, you can feel the tension start to rise. With every passing minute, more and more fans arrive until you look up and suddenly the bleachers are covered in black and gold.
I still remember being on the field last year for warmups, during my freshman season, and having the thought occur to me.
Wow. This is what I get to do the next four years.
My game day routine never changes, no matter who the opponent is. I'll put on my eye black, sometimes in the shape of a cross. We'll follow our mascot out to the entrance of a stadium, and wait behind a black gate for our moment to come. Once he rides out on a motorcycle and we rush onto the field, I'll head over to the end zone and say a quick prayer. For safety. For clarity of mind. For thanks. And to play with the abilities God has given me.
But there's one other ritual I do every game. One that I'll do as long as I can play this game.
I put the initials D.A. on my wristband.
My name is Sam Hartman, and I'm the quarterback here at Wake Forest, but those initials aren't for me. They're for my brother, Demitri. He may have had a different last name than me, and we may not have shared a blood line, but he was a brother in every sense of the word.
And when you love someone like you love a brother, it hurts just as much not having him here anymore.
(Title photo courtesy of Getty Images)