Former Gilman star Micah Kiser set to bring college career to fitting end in Military Bowl

As the eyes of the world turned to the gruesome spectacle of bigotry that swept over Charlottesville, Va., in August, all eyes in the University of Virginia football locker room turned to Micah Kiser.

It wasn’t just that the Woodlawn native is a fifth-year senior and the best player on the Cavaliers defense. He’s also a consummate student-athlete who’s pursuing a master’s degree in higher education after earning a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs last spring. Not to mention that Kiser, who is black, has maintained some of the closest bonds in his life with white classmates and teammates.

As he and his team watched images flash on CNN of white supremacists flooding their normally welcoming college town, the former Gilman star knew precisely how to respond.

“It was something no one ever expected. I was watching my little brothers looking up at me, confused,” said Kiser, who will finish his college career against Navy in the Military Bowl on Thursday. “So you take it on yourself to make sure we all stayed together, because that’s what you would do for your family members. We just wanted to send out a positive message that whatever was going on, it wasn’t reflective of what we’re a part of here.”

The next day, the 22-year-old Kiser helped organize a photo of the team — arms linked without regard for race — on the same Rotunda steps where protesters had barked their messages.

“At the end of the day, you are who you are,” he said. “I’m not going to become some brand-new player. I have three years of film and if they like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t.”

He’ll close his college career in an ideal setting — just down the road from home, against an opponent he might have played for had his life taken a slightly different path.

The last time he played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, his father noted, Gilman beat New Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco Prep, and Kiser returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown.

“It’s an awesome way to finish,” Kiser said. “I’ll have a lot of friends, a lot of family there. I can maybe go home for a few hours and spend Christmas Eve with my family. And then to go out against a team like Navy, what other opponent would you want?”

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