Ex-Husker Terrell Newby trades football for an opportunity to serve his country

LINCOLN — Terrell Newby wants to jump out of planes. He’s had a hunger to do that most of his life, actually, hoping to be part of an Army airborne infantry unit on a mission somewhere in the world.

Months before the former Husker running back chose to pursue that career path with the Nebraska National Guard, he was faced with the potential end of his football career. He’d bounced around the NFL. He’d played well in the Alliance of American Football before it folded last spring. He’d finished his degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in August, and worked out for XFL teams in advance of that league’s draft in October.

Newby didn’t get selected.

“I had to make a decision," Newby said. "If I don’t get picked up, what do I really want to do?”

Football had been his love forever, but Newby had another passion — the military — handed down by his dad, Terrell Sr., who served in the Army.

“He instilled these Army values in me,” Newby said. “I always wanted to do it, but playing football my whole life was my main focus.”

Until now.

Newby signed up for the Nebraska National Guard this year. First he told his dad, who went with him to the recruiter’s office. That's where Newby learned the National Guard could provide the balance he wanted between having a civilian life as a real estate developer and a service life in the military. Most importantly, the decision got his dad's seal of approval.

“He was pretty stoked and excited to get me in,” Newby said. “The National Guard does a great job of laying out the process and how it works, and accommodating the things you want to be able to accomplish in your career. I didn’t really know much about the National Guard — more the active duty part of it — but, basically, I can still be in Lincoln and accomplish what I want to accomplish in my military career.”

Maj. Scott Ingalsbe of the Nebraska National Guard said Newby understood he didn't face an either/or decision.

“We’re excited that he’s joining our team,” Ingalsbe said. “He’s a lot like everybody who is joining the National Guard to serve in a difficult time, when you know you’re going to be called upon to do work in a dangerous time.”

Newby’s military goals are ambitious. He’ll head to Fort Benning, Georgia, in mid-July for 10 weeks of basic training, which is still on amid the coronavirus pandemic. He has 12 more weeks of specific infantry training after that, followed by three weeks of airborne training. He’s also competing for a spot in Ranger School, a 62-day training session also conducted at Fort Benning. All together, training could last six months or more.

Some of Newby’s ex-Husker teammates were surprised he's headed to the National Guard, but he said all were supportive. The athletic skills Newby used to run for 2,239 career yards and 20 touchdowns can be put to good use in a more important context while fulfilling a lifelong dream as deep as playing football.

“I’ll have the opportunity to jump out of planes, Newby said. "That definitely attracted me."

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