Reggie Rembert’s mother never wanted him to play football.
When Rembert was five, Ida Rembert was appalled by the idea of her son shoving around a bunch of other little boys.
“Let’s let Reggie play football,” his father said.
“No way is my son playing football,” she snapped.
Mrs. Rembert went out of town and his dad signed him up that day.
Rembert has played football now for 15 years, but his mother’s long-gone wish might come true this fall.
Now starting cornerback for the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons, in April Rembert was indefinitely suspended for an academic violation. Although he can practice with the team, he cannot play in games until the suspension is lifted.
Air Force officials would not comment on or elaborate on the infraction because it would violate the federal privacy act.
The loss of Rembert’s standout performance on the field will be a significant blow to the Falcons if he is forced to miss games in the fall. In 2008 he was the team leader in interceptions (3) and all-purpose yards (943). He played in all 13 games as a first-year in 2007 and started at corner in all 13 games in 2008.
Rembert, a sophomore, is notably one of the most recognized and talented players at the academy, and now his mother refuses to miss a single game.
After missing one game during his freshman year, Mrs. Rembert booked all of the plane tickets she and Rembert’s father would need for the following season, as they live in Texas.
“You’ll never make me miss a game again,” she told Mr. Rembert.
And they haven’t since. This should come as no surprise to the cadet, a self-proclaimed spoiled only child from Flower Mound, Texas.
He called his parents the best in the world, behind him 100 percent, even through the suspension.
The infraction, however, was not his first setback. At just 5’7” his height makes him one of the shortest cornerbacks in the NCAA. His friends jokingly call him “lil Reggie” and “lil tyke,” but he doesn’t seem to mind.
“Like one of my coaches said, ‘Reggie, you’re just a seven-foot guy trapped in a five-foot frame.’ They respect me because I play a lot bigger than I am,” Rembert said.
And his explosiveness on the field has done exactly what he had hoped. Proven everybody wrong.
The starter doesn’t let size affect the way he plays or his dream to make it big. Rembert hopes to be drafted by an NFL team, but he has to serve two years in the Air Force after he graduates before he can play.
Who does he want to play for?
“Any team. I just want the chance,” he said.
And that’s all he wanted when he came to the academy, as well. Rembert was All-State in high school in Texas and led the state in interceptions in the regular season in 2005 during his junior year. After high school his goal was to play Division I football in college, but not many schools were willing to take the chance on the cornerback’s size. The academy gave him that chance.
That doesn’t mean Rembert hasn’t thought about leaving.
“It’s really hard. I’ve thought about going somewhere else. Anyone who says they haven’t is lying,” he said.
Rembert wakes up five days a week at 7 a.m. and puts on his blue trousers and buttons up his blue shirt. He heads to mandatory breakfast at 7:20 a.m. He may or may not eat. Four hours of class and then military drills. Marching is followed by another mandatory meal—lunch this time. He gives up the trousers and shirt for pads. Workout, practice, lift, watch film. Shower, dinner, homework, under the covers by 10:45 p.m. Repeat.
The academy is known for having one of the most rigorous academic programs in the nation, and it expects the best from student-athletes. The NCAA released its Academic Progress Rate (APR) report on May 11, in which the academy ranked second out of 120 Division I football programs.
The APR tracks the academic progress of each student-athlete during a period of four years and calculates an overall score based on criteria such as eligibility, retention and graduation. The academy ranked second to Stanford by only one point.
The academy was the right choice for him according to Rembert. He’ll be guaranteed a job and the option to retire in 20 years.
“It’s all worth it in the end,” Rembert said.
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