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Eric Kettani Promoted To Navy Lieutenant


Redskins fullback Eric Kettani may be living out his NFL dream with the Washington Redskins, but much of his time off the football field is spent in service to his country.

Kettani, a 2009 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, went undrafted and signed by the New England Patriots.

During the first three years of his career, Kettani split time between his commitments to the Navy aboard the USS Klakring and trying to crack an NFL roster.

Now out of active duty and in his second of seven years with the Navy Reserves, he has an opportunity to see both careers through to success.

Earlier this afternoon at Redskins Park, Eric Kettani was promoted to Lieutenant from his previous rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. 

"It's a great honor for me for four years of service. I'm excited to be lieutenant," Kettani told the media. "I had my friend Matt [Harmon] swear me in and [head coach Mike] Shanahan, [assistant head coach/running backs coach Bobby] Turner and my father pin all my lieutenant bars."

Military promotions must be conducted under the jurisdiction of the military, meaning that the actual swearing in process is done by another Naval officer.

In order to celebrate the promotion, recipients may choose to have meaningful people to pin the rank pins on the uniform collar and hat.

"They were both really honored to do that," Kettani said of Shanahan and Turner. "They're both big mentors in my life right now. I'm excited to have them do it and also my father to put the cover on."

Why the location of Redskins Park? He had a hard time getting off work.

"I practiced literally a half-hour ago. You see I'm still sweating from practice," he said with a smile. "Yeah, convenience, but also I wanted to do it at Redskins Park.

"It is where I work every day and this is my No. 1 job. This is my priority."

Kettani's teammates sat in the back of the auditorium and cheered his promotion.

"It was awesome. They're my teammates and my friends," Kettani said. "They saw me putting my stuff on downstairs and they were surprised.

"[They] asked what I was doing and they were excited to come up here. I guess they like me."

Shanahan and Turner were all smiles for the event and took playful heat from the players in the back of the room when they took too long pinning the bars on Kettani's collar.

"I've had guys in the military, but not a lieutenant. I better salute to him now," joked Shanahan after the ceremony. "He's a great representative for our country because he's everything you look for in a person. To have a guy like that, you feel very secure." 

Kettani signed with the Redskins' practice squad early last season and was re-signed to a futures contract in January.

While most other players were relaxing and spending time at home during the offseason, Kettani returned to service with a tour of military bases. At each stop, he honored and recognized service members for their contributions and sacrifice.

"I traveled around and gave some speeches. Last weekend I was at the Pentagon doing some [Navy] Reserves stuff and knocking that out before football," he said. "It's hard to do, but you have to do it. That's what I signed up for.

"I thoroughly want to help out the Navy and be the face for them to give speeches and talk about my past experiences."

Shanahan praised his commitment and time management, saying that his character played a positive factor in the team's interest.

"Well, we knew that when we got him, what type of guy we had," he explained. "When you graduate from the Naval Academy and have the success that he's had, he's a special type of player to come in. And then you see what type of football talent that he brings, you know that the competition is very strong at that position.

"We've got a guy we think can help our football team win."

During his time at the U.S. Naval Academy, Kettani was part of one of the most prolific rushing attacks in college football.

His 5.4 yards per carry for a career ranks sixth-best in school history, and he brings his 6-1, 240-pound frame to the Redskins backfield.

"We saw him as a running back. We saw him as a fullback," Shanahan said of Kettani. "Anytime you get a guy who is 6 foot, 240 pounds that can run the football and can block as well as he can, it's pretty obvious that he's all the things you look for in a fullback."

In order to remain part of the organization, Kettani will need to show that he brings talent and versatility to the Redskins' offense. Already this offseason, he is accepting the challenge.

"We had him out wide at the end of practice today and with our first team offense," Shanahan said with a shrug. "He's very smart. He's a heck of a football player. Not only does he have blocking skills, but he has running skills.

"It's sure nice to have that type of player on your football team."

Watch pinning ceremony:




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