COLUMBIA, Tenn. - (January 8, 2021) A former member of one of college football’s elite teams plans to join the U.S. Army team.
De’Marquise Lockridge was a reserve running back on the 2017 University of Alabama NCAA national championship team. The former Lawrence County (Tenn.) football star finished his career in 2019 and completed his degree last year.
After graduation, Lockridge, 24, began considering his future. While working with his family’s business back in his hometown of Lawrenceburg, he visited the nearby Columbia U.S. Army Recruiting Station, but his decision was already made before he walked through the door.
“I’d prayed about it and this was where God led me to be,” Lockridge said. “I was looking for brotherhood and a type of family.”
He added, “After I talked to the sergeants here, I felt like I was part of a family.”
Another factor was a tradition of Army service in Lockridge’s family spanning more than a century. A maternal grandfather, Albert Lee Buchanan, served in World War I while one of his grandfathers, William Randolph Morton, fought in World War II.
Lockridge’s late father, Marcus Lockridge was an Army Ranger. He was a career Soldier.
On Jan. 26, Lockridge begins his own Army journey. He leaves for basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., where he will later receive infantry and airborne training.
“I just want to help people,” Lockridge said. “Playing ball is great, but you’re not directly affecting anybody else in a positive way.
“Doing this on a day-to-day basis I’m able to help.”
Lockridge said his mother Tia and his stepfather Herbert Gilbert both inspired him to serve and help others. His parents cheered him as he played for the Lawrence County High School from 2012-2015.
During his career, he rushed for 1,947 yards over three seasons. His senior year, he ran for 801 yards including three games topping 100 yards.
Although he received scholarship offers from several schools, Lockridge chose to walk on at Alabama. Despite limited playing time, he said he was proud to play for an elite team.
Lockridge proudly shows off his 2017 championship rings. However, he said he believes wearing the Army greens will mean even more to him.
Many of the same reasons that caused him to play for the Crimson Tide prompted him to don the Army uniform. He said both teams have a winning tradition.
“They both strive for greatness,” Lockridge said. “Both want to be the best, both don’t accept ‘no’ for an answer and they’re really big on pride, discipline, effort and hard work.”
He added, “Those are the makings for any successful organization.”
Although he weighed several options upon graduation, including resuming his football career, Lockridge said he’s at peace with his decision. He enlisted for six years and will receive a $40,000 bonus upon completing his training.
“I was liberated,” Lockridge recalled after his late December enlistment. “All the weight off my shoulders was lifted.
“I knew I was where I need to be.”
One of the U.S. Army recruiters assisting Lockridge in his career was Sgt. 1st Class Paul Chambers. He’s currently commanding the Columbia Recruiting Station located at 800 South John Campbell Blvd., in the old Columbia Mall.
“We’re very proud of him,” Chambers said. “He’s one of our all-time future Soldiers because he’s a very impressive young man.”
For his part, Lockridge said he’s never looked back or reconsidered his decision. He’s ready.
“When I signed up, it sunk in that this is my family for the rest of my life,” Lockridge said. “I’m 100 percent committed; I need this.
He added, “This is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
For more information, stop by the Columbia U.S. Army Recruiting Station or call (931) 388-1301. You can check out Army opportunities any time at www.GoArmy.com, and the Army is also active on most social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many others.