NORMAL — The Illinois State campus is a long way from Garland, Texas.
DraShane Glass knew that when he signed a national letter of intent with the Redbirds in 2014. Time has not shrunk the distance.
When Glass decided to play football at ISU he also committed himself to a months at a time separation from his son, Jayden.
Glass did it anyway. He did it for himself. And he did it for Jayden.
“I would wonder why I’m even here away from my son,” Glass said of his freshman year. “I didn’t like the cold. I would get tired all the time and say I couldn’t do it.”
But he has. Glass is entering the home stretch of his Redbird career as a defensive back and will graduate in May.
“He’s a great story. I’m really proud of DraShane,” said ISU coach Brock Spack. “He had a lot of reasons not to succeed. He had to fight through a lot of things most of us don’t.”
Among five current Redbirds to see action in the FCS national championship game to conclude the 2014 season, Glass was recruited to ISU by fellow Dallas area native and Redbird assistant coach Khenon Hall.
“Coach Hall got me in the door here. He told me I had a big opportunity to make a change for the team,” Glass said. “It was a big-time decision for me to come get my degree so I could provide for my son after football.”
Glass had 41 tackles and two interceptions as a true freshman to help the Redbirds advance to the national title game in Frisco, Texas, a suburb of Dallas and less than 30 miles from Garland.
The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder has played all four positions in the ISU secondary and is currently the Redbirds’ nickel back in passing situations. Glass has two interceptions and his eight career picks are the best among current ISU players.
“He’s become a lot tougher as a player and a person. He’s mentally tougher and physically tougher,” said Spack. “He’s going out the way you want any of your players to go out. He’s at the top of his game, and he’s going to graduate.”
ISU secondary coach Cody Deti has witnessed and nurtured Glass’ maturation.
“He had the responsibility of being a student-athlete as well as being a dad. That’s tough to do when you’re away from home,” Deti said. “He’s done a really nice job of growing up. When he leaves here with his degree in the spring, he will be a better man and a better father because of it.”
Glass talks to Jayden, who lives with his mother in Midlothian, Texas, every day. Jayden is now 5 years old and in kindergarten.
“I always tell him I’m playing football and I’m in school so I can’t come back all the time,” said Glass. “When I come back in December, I’m with him for a month. I take him out and do everything possible I can do to have fun with him.
“He loves school. He counts to 50 and knows the alphabet. He doesn’t get in trouble at all. So that’s really good.”
Glass hopes for an opportunity in pro football either in the United States or Canada. But when his playing career ends, he will return to the Dallas area with ambitions of becoming a teacher and coach.
“I’ll be working on getting my teacher’s certificate in the spring,” he said.
Glass will go through Senior Day on Nov. 18 as North Dakota State visits Hancock Stadium for the regular-season finale.
"It's been a quick four years. I can't believe it's already here," said Glass. "Coach Spack got me ready for life after this. No better coach could prepare me for after football than Coach Spack."
Life after football will include frequent time with Jayden, who is already playing flag football.
"I will have him a lot," Glass said with eager anticipation. "He looks up to me. He says he wants to come to Illinois State."
Like father, like son.