Former Army offensive lineman Brett Toth expected to finish his military commitment before going pro, but thanks to a military waiver, he became free to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday.
Current Defense Department rules require at least two years of active duty before being considered for a waiver, but President Donald Trump signed an order in late June that asked the Pentagon to come up with a plan to make it easier for athletes at military academies to go pro.
Toth was a key member of Army’s offensive line when the Black Knights led the nation in rushing in 2017, but his military service scared teams off drafting him in 2018. He spent the last year as a graduate assistant with Army and also took the Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
Now that Toth has been cleared to go pro, he’ll have an abbreviated offseason. The Eagles have already played two preseason games, and Week 1 is just 23 days away. At this point, Toth is reportedly focused on adding weight before the season, as well as earning a roster spot.
“It’s going to be a lot of proving that I belong here and just taking what coaching I’ve gotten at those all-star games and applying it as quickly as possible and adjusting on the run,” Toth said, via the team site. “I got the short stick here. Other guys have been doing this for a few months. They’ve been able to understand the offense and I’ve got two weeks now to show that I belong on this roster.”
Although Toth is not familiar with the Eagles’ playbook, he’s actually appeared at a game Lincoln Financial Field before with big stakes. In December 2017, he helped lead Army past Navy, 14-13, to secure the school's first nine-win season in two decades.
Toth is not the only player to benefit from Trump’s recent decision. The Minnesota Vikings drafted former Air Force long-snapper Austin Cutting in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL draft. He’ll have to spend his two-year commitment working as a recruiter in Minnesota. However, the Boston Red Sox drafted Navy pitcher Noah Song in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB draft, and there’s no word yet on if he’ll receive a waiver.
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