Soldier to Serve His Country ... as a Linebacker
Army grad, drafted by Detroit, skips active duty if he makes team
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2008 9:46 AM CDT
Army plays Temple at Michie Stadium on the campus of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Campbell is the first Army player drafted into the NFL since 1997.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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(Newser) – If linebacker Caleb Campbell hadn't been picked up by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round of the NFL draft Sunday, he'd  be suiting up for the battlefield, not the gridiron. Assuming he makes the team, Campbell, who graduates from the U.S. Military Academy  May 31, will be allowed to replace five years' service by working as a recruiter and a reserve while playing, the Detroit Free Press reports.

A 2005 policy allowing servicemen to go pro rather than to war has only seen a handful of takers, and reaction has been mixed. The Army is banking on the recruiting power—and publicity—that players like Campbell will bring. Campbell wants to make it clear he's not dodging duty in Iraq. "If football doesn't work out, I get to do what I came to the academy for in the first place. I get to be an officer, and that's something that I love as well."