During SMU’s game against Texas A&M at Kyle Field, Aggies senior defensive back Trent Hunter intercepted a pass and lost his helmet when both senior center Blake McJunkin and senior offensive lineman Kelly Turner tackled him. With Hunter’s head exposed, McJunkin instinctively shielded his opponent with his arms until the play was over.
"It was just a natural reaction," McJunkin told the Houston Chronicle. "When he lost his helmet, it was just the right thing to do, no matter the color of his jersey. I've seen people get hurt in that situation."
One of the most interesting parts of the whole story for people that don’t personally know McJunkin is that he didn’t speak a word of his selfless act to anyone. McJunkin’s father, Kirk McJunkin, a former Texas guard and Pittsburgh Steeler, said even after spending the rest of the night with his son and driving back to Dallas with him on Monday, Blake didn’t mention anything about the play.
“On Tuesday morning, someone sent me a link to the play and told me to watch it,” McJunkin’s father said. “By then Texas A&M’s students and blogs were all talking about it, which means that Blake never told a word to me about it until I brought it up. He was pretty humble about it. Honestly, it makes me extremely proud because you raise your kids hoping they do they right thing. We tell him, ‘Character doesn’t recognize skin and jersey color.’ And we tell him to compete hard with a desire to win, but to keep it all in perspective. It is evidence that someone young can be an example for all. It is encouraging.”
Even Hunter reached out to thank Blake McJunkin for protecting him on his twitter page Wednesday.
“(Shoutout) to SMU starting center Blake McJunkin for looking out for me when my helmet came off during the game. Your a class act bro. Thanks!” he tweeted.
But this selfless act wasn’t the first time Blake made his team and family proud simply by doing the right thing.
Back in his freshman year in one of the first games of the season, SMU played Navy in Annapolis. It was pouring rain and the wind wasn’t making the weather any better. The Mustangs fells to the Midshipmen 34-7 that game. As soon as the game ended, the SMU coaches and players fled to the locker room for shelter -- all except Blake McJunkin.
McJunkin stayed on the field to shake the hands with the Navy players, then as he turned to join his team in the locker room, he heard Navy playing their school song so he stopped and turned toward the band in respect. McJunkin was the lone Mustang on the field. To the Midshipmen, their postgame song isn’t just about winning a football game. It is a time honored tradition that recognizes the Navy men and women who have lost their lives in battle.
“He just did what I hoped my son would do,” McJunkin’s father said. “I remember elbowing Kathy my wife and saying ‘Look at your boy.’ It was a proud moment. The next couple of days retired admirals reached out to us and we had phone calls and emails because of his display of respect. One Navy mother reached out to us and said she was on the edge about her son wanting to attend the Naval Academy. She said she didn’t believe society appreciated the 18-to-22-year-olds that go to the Naval Academy with their future set on serving their country. But after Blake’s actions, she said it changed her mind and she realized why her son wanted to serve.”
The Naval Academy also reached out to SMU’s Athletic Department in letters and calls to recognize Blake McJunkin’s respectful gesture.
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