Sunday Spotlight: Marine's Football Dream

ABC News' Steve Osunsami on former Marine Steven Rhodes' fight to play college football.
3:33 | 09/01/13

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Transcript for Sunday Spotlight: Marine's Football Dream
It's time now for the sunday spotlight shining today on steven roads. U.S. Marine and defensive end. There he is in action on thursday. Getting there took a fight with the ncaa. They tried to ban him from the playing field after his years of service in the marine corp. Steve has his story. Reporter: This was the moment 24-year-old steven rhodes, number 49, had to fight for, his first time on the field as a middle tennessee state university blue raider. He admits he's not the biggest star here, but the 6'3" 240 pound defensive end was a proud marine sergeant who finished serving his country and walked on to this team. Never give up, never give in. Are you upset with the ncaa? I was upset with the situation, you know, and I was definitely confused. Reporter: He was upset and confused because after five years in the military, here's what he had to tackle first, an eligibility by-law from the ncaa. It said college players who failed to enroll within one year of graduation, have to give up one year of eligibility for any participation in competition. It applied to rhodes. He was seen here playing for this recreational league when he and his young family were based at the marine corp. Station in san diego. Were you a professional athlete? No. Reporter: So you didn't have a big contract? No, no contract. Reporter: No contract. Yeah, uncle sam contract. Reporter: But the ncaa wouldn't budge, saying he'd have to sit out for a year. They got to let him play. It's a no-brainer. Absolutely. It's common sense. Reporter: It took a hot minute for the story to go viral. EVEN SENATOR john McCain said the ncaa should allow steven rhodes to play. But nothing would have changed if it weren't for one of the marine's biggest fans. sydney McPhee is the president of the school and happens to be a former ncaa executive committee member. I picked up the phone and called a few of the folks, and said you really want to take a second hard look at this issue. Reporter: And earlier this month, they allowed him to play. It turns out men and women and the military are normally excused from the rule. But over time that exemption was forgotten. At the season opener against western carolina, rhodes put his first tackle in the record books. And in the end, the blue raiders won. I made the sacrifice, do what I need to do, that's what I felt I wanted to do, serve my country in the marine corp. I was determined to finish out my dream. Just kept my kate and kept praying, kept believing. Here I am. Reporter: For "this week," steve, abc news, tennessee. He did what we needed to do. Now we honor our fellow americans who serve and sacrifice. This week, the pentagon released the names of five soldiers killed in afghanistan. And that is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your sunday with us. Check out "world news" with david muir tonight, and I'll see you tomorrow on "gma."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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