James Chambers will put on the pads for the last time on Saturday.
The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth marks the end of his 12 years of football, which started in the fifth grade out in Arizona on through four years at Rider High and then four years at the Air Force Academy.
Rider went to the playoffs all three of his varsity seasons, and he was an all-state linebacker as a junior and senior.
At Air Force, he played on mostly special teams for three years, but hung around and became a starting weakside linebacker as a senior this season.
But his football days will come to an end when he walks off the field at Amon Carter Stadium on Saturday.
What will he be thinking after giving up something that has taken up half of his life?
"I'll start getting ready for track season," said Chambers, a state champion in the shot put his senior year at Rider.
He has participated in shot put, discus and hammer throw at Air Force. His 53-8 1/4 shot put last spring ranked seventh in the nation among two-sport athletes.
Chambers admits that his four years at a military school haven't been easy.
"The only way to get through it is day by day. But I'm glad I did," he said.
His freshman football season at Air Force was also "upsetting," Chambers admits. He went from being a two-time all-state stud at Rider to mostly a bench warmer in college.
"You get used to it. You do the best you can and hopefully, you will get a bone one day," he said.
Chambers admitted that he thought about quitting after his freshman year but decided to stay.
"I wasn't raised to be a quitter," he said.
He played, but didn't letter as a sophomore. As a junior, he got more playing time on special teams and as a backup linebacker.
This year he got that "bone."
The 5-11, 220-pound Chambers ranks sixth on the team in tackles with 66.
He said playing at Rider helped him be "ahead of the game."
"Gar made us hustle on every play," he said of Jim Garfield, his defensive coordinator in high school. "People here didn't run to the ball like I learned to do at Rider. In high school, they instilled in us a mindset of hard work."
Air Force finished 6-6 this season, the same record its bowl opponent Rice had.
The Falcons have made it to a bowl all four years that Chambers has played, winning two out of three.
Chambers thinks Air Force can make that three out of four by beating Rice.
He points to a close encounter with Michigan in the second week of the season as just how well Air Force can play. The Wolverines narrowly won that game, 31-25.
After graduation, Chambers will honor his military obligation by following in his dad's footsteps and become a pilot in the Air Force.
He has been assigned to Columbus, Miss., but hopes to switch and serve at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Okla.
"I want to be closer to my family and my girlfriend," he said.
They will be in the stands Saturday cheering for him one final time.
Sports Editor Nick Gholson can be reached at email@example.com or 940-720-3447.