The incredible story of college football’s first — and only — eighth-year senior


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Jared Folks is easy to spot on East Tennessee State’s campus.

He’s the one toting around a gallon jug of water, sporting a full beard that might have a speck or two of gray (only if you hold the light really close to his face, Folks says jokingly) and answers to everything from “Grandpa” to “Unc” to even the “Bionic Man.”

“I hear it all but wouldn’t trade any of it, everything it took to get here — the good, the bad, the ugly — none of it, because I always wanted to go out on my terms, and that’s what I’m doing,” the soon-to-be 26-year-old said, his smile as broad as his college football career has been long.

On any campus, the versatile linebacker would be an anomaly.

Some of his youngest teammates at ETSU were in the fifth grade when he first started playing college football at Temple in 2014. He has endured more surgeries than he cares to count, accumulated two degrees and is closing in on a third (his MBA), and as recently as the spring of 2020 was a full-fledged member of the workforce as a credit union’s marketing coordinator.

And, yet, here he is, still playing college football and having the time of his life with an ETSU team that’s 6-0 and off to its best start since 1969.

“Look what I would have missed,” said Folks, whose 9.5 tackles per game leads the Bucs. “I love football and just wasn’t ready to give it up. Even when I thought I was done, I wasn’t. The itch to get back out there and play never went away.”

To the best of the NCAA’s knowledge, Folks is not only the first football player but the first college athlete in any sport to have an eighth year of eligibility. That’s right — eight — as in two presidential terms and two years shy of a decade.

“I talk to my guys at work about Jared, and they will say, ‘He’s still in school playing football?'” Folks’ father, Jonathan, said. “I tell them this is his eighth year, and they say, ‘Wow, he is the Tom Brady of college football.'”

So, yes, it’s been a while. How long?

Brady had won only…

Source : espn

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