You knew Austin Ekeler completed his bachelor's degree and Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn walked in UNLV's commencement ceremony to get handed his diploma, but add Chris Landrum to the list of Chargers who fulfilled higher education goals this offseason.
Years in the making, Landrum received his master's degree in sports management from Jacksonville State this spring.
He originally started the program during his senior year at the university, but put it on pause for football. After suffering a season-ending injury last year, he decided to go back, thanks to a gentle nudge from his wife.
"When I got injured last year and went back home, my wife convinced me to go back to school," Landrum said. "I figured I had time, so I might as well do it and have it lead into the offseason so I could finish it."
Additionally, his mom was another person rooting for him to finish his master's. Landrum said education was a huge part of his upbringing and that his parents preached the importance of it throughout his childhood.
"My mom was another one who was on me about going back and finishing," he said. "She could care less about football! But she would always (ask) when I was going back and when I was finishing those classes. When I went ahead and did it, she was happy about it."
Heading into the 2017 season, Landrum was looking to build upon what he achieved as a rookie. But then, disaster struck the second day of training camp. He injured his shoulder and was placed on the reserve/injured list, marking a premature end to his sophomore season.
He admitted being sidelined put things in perspective, and was personal motivation to go back and hit the books.
"It kind of showed me that (the game) can be taken away at any moment, so you need to make sure you have yourself prepared and ready to turn to the next chapter. If it happens before you're ready, I feel like as long as you're prepared, (transitioning away from football) won't be as hard as it would be if you were not."
In order to receive his M.S., Landrum had to complete two online classes and an internship. The latter he did with Chargers Sr. Director of Player Engagement Arthur Hightower. Working with Hightower was key to what Landrum wants to do post-football.
"Football is a young sport," he mentioned. "There's a lot of life after football. I know what I want to do after football, and that's be in a position to help kids. I want to coach at the high school level and become an athletic director at the high school level and impact kids' lives at that age. That's an important age to impact kids and (affect) how they'll turn out in life."
While it was the offseason for completing undergraduate and graduate degrees, Landrum said there was no better influence than Lynn. Watching a head coach go back and complete his was inspiring and ultimately, made Landrum proud.
"I think that was a big thing for us to see. Coaches say it, but to see a coach do it, it makes you listen and go, 'Okay, he's serious about what he's talking about because he actually did it.' It's impressive. It encourages us to go back. I mean at his stage in life, he's a head coach and (him going back and getting his degree) makes you say, 'Why?' But it shows us that it's important to go back."
The Chargers' 2018 training camp schedule is official, so mark your calendars to watch the Bolts prepare for the upcoming season! The team will hold 14 practices open to the public between July 28 and August 23. For more information, please visit **www.chargers.com/camp**.