Texas Tech offensive lineman T.J. Storment on Tuesday will finish up a college career during which he has played for five programs, including four in the FBS. He’s well-suited for meeting new people, given that his family’s Christian ministry in North Carolina exposed him to young people from a wide range of backgrounds.
When he concludes his college football career on Tuesday at the Liberty Bowl, T.J. Storment will put the finishing touches on a journey perhaps unlike any other.
Many a college football player can say he was a 31-game starter at the FBS level. But who besides Storment can say he represented five schools spread over six years and four states? Since leaving high school in Statesville, North Carolina, the Red Raiders’ 6-foot-7, 315-pound offensive tackle has suited up for two years at Old Dominion and one each at Fullerton College, Colorado State, TCU and Texas Tech.
Just reading that in black and white, one might conjure images of a self-centered mercenary interested only in what was best for him.
But ever since he was little, if that description ever applied to a skyscraper of an offensive lineman, Storment’s been learning to enrich others as the son of parents who started a ministry 15 years ago.
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T.J. Storment has started 11 games at left tackle this season for Texas Tech. Storment joined the Red Raiders as a graduate transfer from TCU after having also spent two years at Old Dominion and one each at Fullerton College and Colorado State.
“My faith in Christ is definitely my primary goal wherever I am, to spread the word and have good community around me,” he said. “That’s my ultimate goal, a lot more important than football. But my football journey has definitely been interesting.
“I don’t know that there’s ever been a guy to letter at four different Division I programs. If you had asked me in high school if that’s what I thought it would be, I’d say you’re crazy. But it’s the way the journey went, and I wouldn’t change it.”
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The Tech tackle’s winding path might be easier to understand considering coaching changes have been a significant reason. The day after Storment signed with Old Dominion, ODU fired the offensive line coach who recruited him. Right off the bat, a welcome to the harsh business of college football.
And Storment loved it at Colorado State, but after his first season with the Rams, CSU cut loose the Mike Bobo staff. TCU had long been one of his dream schools, so when the CSU running backs coach went to TCU, Storment followed. Then he followed offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie from TCU to Tech, where he’s started 11 games for the Red Raiders this season at left tackle.
T.J. Storment has gained a faith-based perspective since his family left the business world to start a Christian ministry when T.J. was 9 years old. Power Cross Ministries, according to its website, now serves more than 350 young men on a weekly basis in two North Carolina communities.
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“I’ve never wanted to transfer from a single school I’ve been at, to be honest with you,” Storment said. “Out of high school, I didn’t really have many options. I wanted to do better, which is why I chose to leave Old Dominion.
“Junior college, you have to leave, right? Colorado State, I was there for a year, started every game at left tackle and they fired our entire coaching staff. The coaches that recruited me at Old Dominion out of high school were let go.
“TCU last year was a little bit different situation, but obviously I followed coach Cumbie here, and we have a great relationship. Is it standard? No. Is it very, very unique? For sure. But do I think that that changes anything about me as man, me as a player, me as a follower of Christ? No.”
But as backgrounds go in preparing a guy to meet new people, Storment seems particularly well-suited. Fifteen years ago, back home in North Carolina, Jeff and Natalie Storment left the business world to start a Christian ministry. T.J. was 9 at the time.
Texas Tech offensive lineman T.J. Storment filled a hole this season for the Red Raiders, starting 11 games. He started 12 games two years ago for Colorado State and seven last year for TCU during the COVID-disrupted 2020 season.
Power Cross Ministries, according to its website, “began in 2006 with four boys in a living room, invited together for a Bible study, dinner, and a football game in the yard. That first week there were four boys, the next there were eight, and within a few months, over thirty boys were taking part.
“Today, Power Cross trains and disciples over 350 young men each day across two locations in Statesville and Salisbury, North Carolina, with a vision for more campuses all over the United States.
“Since we’ve begun, our Power Cross family of staff and volunteers have served over 115,000 free meals, provided over 5,000 hours of academic support, and cheered on and coached hundreds of young men in countless games and practices.”
Powercross.org details its work under nine category subheadings: daily discipleship, athletic teams and training, academic support, free meals daily, mentorship from older volunteers, transitional housing for the homeless or displaced, family celebrations, assistance in college recruiting and an annual Power of the Cross rally.
Storment said Power Cross Ministries “was my entire life growing up.”
“I was one of the first kids to be in it,” he said. “It started with me going up to Mom and Dad, saying, ‘Hey, what do you think about doing a Bible study’ when I was 8.
“Dad always says he taught the worst Bible study ever taught, because he’d just accepted Christ and he didn’t know a ton about it.”
On a winding college football career that has taken him from Old Dominion to Fullerton College, Colorado State and TCU, T.J. Storment made his last stop at Texas Tech.
From such humble beginnings, though, the ministry and its purpose grew.
“They take inner-city kids that aren’t as privileged as a lot of kids growing up,” Storment said. “They have football, basketball, baseball, wrestling programs, tutoring facilities. They teach five or six Bible studies, feed a couple of thousand meals. And they have a second location now.
“It started with me and five buddies doing a Bible study after basketball practice one time, and God just kind of saw a need. It was just incredible to see how God’s using my parents and seeing that ministry expand.”
The Power Cross emblem bears the motto “Practice Hard, Pray Harder.”
According to the Power Cross website, 90 percent of its participants come from single-parent homes or are being raised by relatives. Those who are part of the program for at least two years, it reports, have a 100-percent graduation rate with 70 percent enrolling in college or vocational training.
“Power Cross is focused on providing young men with positive role models and a vision for what their lives can be,” it says. “We work with young men across different economic backgrounds and home lives, and we believe that athletics and discipleship have the ability to bridge the social and economic gaps we see in our communities.
“We believe that each young person deserves the same opportunity to excel by using the abilities they have been blessed with, which is why Power Cross is 100% free to all participants.”
For Storment, spending his childhood around so many other young people at Power Cross, then playing for five college football programs in four time zones has enhanced his personal growth.
Drawing upon all those experiences, he says, has helped him become more social and less socially awkward. He’s struggled with that in the past.
“I think that as I’ve continued to mature you’ll see that I’m a lot more confident in certain social situations,” he said. “But I think the primary thing that the ministry’s helped with is having my core and my values and my faith in Jesus that is the primary way that I channel everything else I do.”
Who: Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State
When: 5:45 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
Records: Texas Tech 6-6, Mississippi State 7-5
Tipico Sportsbook line: Mississippi State by 10 1/2. Over-under: 59 1/2 points.
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: T.J. Storment keeps faith strong on his winding football journey