Former Alabama running back Glenn Coffee wasn’t fulfilled in playing professional football, but it didn’t stop him from finding something that would bring him joy. His abrupt retirement from the National Football League after one season (2009), led him to join the military.
Coffee enlisted in the United States Army as a paratrooper in February of 2013, and hasn’t looked back. He credits God as the source that wanted him to take another path in life.
Coffee was a part of a culture change at the University of Alabama in 2008, prior to going pro and enlisting in the military. He enrolled at Alabama in 2005, and split time with Kenneth Darby at running back. Coffee totaled 270 yards (179 rushing, 91 receiving) with one touchdown as a freshman. A knee injury sidelined him in 2006, forcing Coffee to redshirt his sophomore year.
Nick Saban’s arrival to Tuscaloosa in 2007 was epic. His goal was to give Crimson Tide fans a team it could be proud of, while Coffee wanted to get back on the field and prove his worth.
He returned as a redshirt sophomore and shared Alabama’s backfield with Terry Grant in 2007. Coffee possessed power, speed and vision, as he accounted for 545 yards with four touchdowns. The Crimson Tide finished the 2007 season at 7-6, but the best was yet to come.
Alabama’s 2008 recruiting class paired Coffee with Mark Ingram, Jr. Coffee earned All-SEC first team honors from the Associated Press in 2008. He rushed for 1,383 yards and 10 touchdowns on 5.9 yards per carry. Ingram set a freshman record for rushing touchdowns (12), and recorded 728 yards on an average of 5.1 yards per carry.
Alabama captured an SEC Western Division crown in 2008. Its victories over Auburn and Georgia were high marks on the season.
Coffee didn’t win a Southeastern Conference championship or a national title, but he instilled toughness in his teammates. Alabama became college football’s elite team in 2009. It finished the season undefeated (14-0), winning both a conference title and a national championship.
The San Francisco 49ers selected Coffee in the third round (74th pick) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He saw action behind Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore, but Coffee’s heart was just not in the game. He did rush for 226 yards and a touchdown, prior to his retirement on Aug. 13, 2010.
Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.