Marines team up with College Football All Stars
By SSgt. Marc Ayalin
| Marine Corps Recruiting Command | January 30, 2004
The United States Marine Corps participated in the 2004 Capital One College All-Star Challenge held at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, January 30, 2004.
The event attracted approximately 2,500 fans and spectators who witnessed some of the nation’s top players in college football compete in a unique skills competition.
This is the second year in a row the Marine Corps has interactively participated in the competition. This year, the Marine Corps held an oath of enlistment for 35 applicants, showcased a static display of Amphibious Assault Vehicles and High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), displayed Marine banner advertisements throughout the playing field and a Marine Corps color guard presented the colors at the opening ceremony.
“Having the Marines involved this year has taken this event to a higher level,” said Charles N. Besser, president and CEO of Intersport, producers of the annual College Football All-Star Challenge. “Football is an absolute American sport and having the Marines here, especially this year, is just the right thing to do. This is the second year the Marines have participated and the equipment display added excitement to the event.”
For the Marines who supported this year’s challenge it was a great opportunity to be involved in such a high-profile event.
“This is one of the better events we’ve supported,” said Staff Sergeant Jacob Whitley, an AAV Mechanic, with Bravo Company, 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion, 4th Marine Division. “It’s also a joy for us to show the public some of our equipment. This is stuff they hardly ever get to see.”
For Carly Rohrig, an attendee, the Marines made an impression on her.
“I think what Marines do is honorable and necessary,” Rohrig said. “I’m glad that there are people willing to fight for our country. I don’t know what I’d do if I were put in a combat situation.”
For the competition, the athletes divided into four teams of two. They included: University of Pittsburgh’s Rod Rutherford and University of Notre Dame’s Julius Jones; University of Kentucky’s Jared Lorenzen and University of Washington’s Reggie Williams; University of Tennessee’s Casey Clausen and University of Texas’ Roy Williams; and University of Michigan’s Chris Perry and Michigan State’s Jeff Smoker.
The first of four challenges of the competition was the Aerial Assault in which players made six attempts to throw a football at moving and stationary targets each containing a red circle worth specific points. The second challenge was the Marine’s Obstacle Rush. Here, players ran through a series of obstacles and raced against the clock for the fastest time. The third challenge, the Landing Zone, had each quarterback compete in who could throw the furthest. The final challenge was the Quick Delivery. This event harnessed the skill of both teammates by having the receiver negotiate through a series of obstacles while his quarterback threw him passes.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Rod Rutherford and Notre Dame’s Julius Jones won the competition to become this year’s champions.
“This whole event has been a highlight for me,” said Julius Jones, running back for the University of Notre Dame. “Being out here with the country’s top players has been a great experience.”
With the disaster of Space Shuttle Columbia still etched in Americans’ minds, the College All-Star Challenge was a change of pace. Space center director, Lieutenant General Jefferson D. Howell Jr. (USMC Ret.), conducted the opening ceremony thanking all participants who were responsible for making the event possible. He also shared his feelings on the timing of the event (the All-Star Challenge took place nearly a year after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster).
“The NFL has shown extreme kindness to the families of the Columbia,” Howell Jr. said. “The event here today allows our employees who have also been grieving for a year, to get out and enjoy a fun event. We felt that since the NFL has been so good to our people and the Johnson Space Center that we would love to host this event. It was an uplifting activity for our folks and the space center made a great backdrop for the event.”
Upon completion of the event, players took the time to sign autographs and take pictures with dozens of football fans that wished the players luck in their future NFL careers.