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UCF football to host Military Appreciation Day

Battle-tested war veteran on team

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ORLANDO, Fla. – UCF football will host Military Appreciation Day on Saturday, and the team will have an Army veteran in its huddle.

Suiting up for the Knights will be  Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Rory Coleman, an Orlando native from Lake Brantley High School. 

Coleman tried out and made the UCF football team last spring as a defensive end after finishing active military duty in 2013. Coleman spent one year at Tallahassee Community College and one year at Seminole State College before transferring to UCF after earning an associate of arts degree.

Coleman played football in high school and was on the verge of playing college football before he talked with his grandfather, who was a World War II prisoner of war, and he decided to forgo college football and enlist in the Army.

"He showed me that there's more to life than playing the game," Coleman said in a news release . "It's ok to love the game, but I had to get a foundation as a human being first, as a man."

Coleman suffered serious injuries in a grenade blast in 2011, including injuries to his right arm, lower legs, lower legs, left foot, both thighs, a fractured right femur, a  fractured right finger and punctured bowels and intestines.

Coleman recovered and decided that he was healthy enough to play college football. He began training for tryouts a year before finishing his associate degree. 

"I wanted to play football. It was always my dream for once I got out of the Army," Coleman said in the release. "Spring came around and I just kept bugging these people. I came here every day, asking the front office about tryouts."

UCF will play the Cincinnati Bearcats at noon at Bright House Networks Stadium. The Knights will honor five military branches with different helmet stickers.