Many SEC football players grapple with a decision to stay for their senior year or leave to pursue their passion. For most of those talented players, the NFL Draft is enticing, but for LSU’s K.J. Malone, it was another career path that nearly saw him leave Baton Rouge this spring.

Malone always wanted to be a U.S. Marshall, and Ross Dellenger of The Advocate reported that the Tigers’ left tackle was much closer to leaving this offseason than many thought.

Due to the deaths of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge recently, Malone felt a responsibility greater than football.

“Just because all of the stuff going on this summer with the cops,” Malone told The Advocate, “it made me want to help the community and help the world.”

The big offensive lineman comes from a family with military roots. His grandfather and uncle were in the Air Force. Even his famous father, Karl “the Mailman” Malone, was set on an armed services career before he was sniffed out of Louisiana Tech and drafted by the Utah Jazz.

After the aforementioned shootings, K.J. told his father, “Yeah, Dad. I want to be part of the group defending our national monuments. That’s the front line of freedom. We defend what’s ours.”

But at a small gathering at his family’s home in Ruston, Malone announced that he would return to the Tigers.

It boiled down to finishing what he started at LSU for the younger Malone, one of LSU’s oldest players. The fifth-year senior is nearly alone in a roster that churns out NFL talent. He is the last remaining offensive lineman from his 2013 signing class, and his focus remains on guiding the young talent and helping the Tigers compete for national titles.