CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- On the Virginia sidelines, UVA kicker Matt Ganyard looks like any other college football player, but that's where the similarities end.

"We go to a team meeting, and at the very end Coach Elliott had me stand up and introduce myself and I could see the shock on their faces when I said 34 with two kids," said Ganyard.

Ganyard's path to the Virginia locker room is unlike any other, starting 16 years ago when he first tried out for a UVA team under the leadership of Al Groh.

"I've still got the email from whoever it was that was working back in 2009 saying 'Hey, we regret to inform you that you didn't make the team,'" said Ganyard, "That was my iPad background for many years."

The disappointment of rejection was short-lived as Ganyard soon found himself in a different uniform, spending 10 years in active duty as a Marine. But through countless flights and even deployment, the dream of playing college football persisted. Last year, an opportunity to study at the UVA Darden School of Business presented another path to the sidelines, and yet another roadblock.

"Fast forward to last year is when I should have hopefully been playing that would have been that 5th year, but due to the scheduling at Darden it essentially wasn't possible with the academic structure," said Ganyard. 

A failed tryout, a scheduling conflict and just one year of grad school left Ganyard needing to throw a hail Mary, applying for an extra year of eligibility.

"Somehow after initial denial from the NCAA and subsequent appeal, we found out about four days before camp that the appeal went through and next thing you know, I'm finishing my summer internship and getting a physical with a NCAA football team," said Ganyard.

Now Ganyard is preparing for his next challenge: winning a position battle.

"It's a heated competition in the place kicking as of right now between Will (Bettridge) and Matt, and we'll see the best man win," said special teams coordinator Keith Gaither.

If he sees playing time, he'll be the third-oldest player to ever play in a Power 5 program, but his story isn't about his age or military background. It's about persistence.

"Having never played is great, or for making this as the old guy, but for me the thing I'm most proud of is just the persistence," said Ganyard. "I think there were a lot of times throughout these 16 years where you know it's felt like it's been another closed door or this was the dead end, just staying persistent is what I'm most proud of to see it come to fruition."