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Northwestern walk-on Tom Hruby is a Navy SEAL

Tom Hruby is a 32-year-old walk-on defensive end at Northwestern.

A walk-on in his 30s -- at a prestigious private university, no less -- is rare enough. Hruby also is married with three kids. But there's even more:

Hruby is a Navy SEAL.

Hruby (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) is balancing football, rigorous coursework, married life and his duties as a SEAL instructor at Great Lakes Naval Station, which is about 30 miles north of Northwestern's campus in Evanston, Ill.

He told the Chicago Sun-Times the lessons he has learned since becoming a SEAL in 2006 help him handle everything.

"What's the next step? How do we get out of here?" he said. "And you've just got to stick to those thoughts, stick to what's important, stick to what you know and just kind of have an attitude."

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald calls him "relentless, absolutely relentless, like you would suspect from a SEAL."

While his missions are classified, Hruby said he has been in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. His role in the SEALs is that of a "breacher" -- an expert in explosives and forced entry.

Hruby had spent some time in junior college but decided he wanted to attend college and took the SAT, scoring high enough to gain admittance into Northwestern last summer. He lives in an on-campus dorm and visits his family -- which lives with his in-laws -- on weekends.

He hopes to play this season on special teams. Given his background, it's hard to think he won't get what he wants.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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