My son, Tommy McGraw, is an 8-year-old football fanatic. He is everything we all wish our boys to be: exceptionally smart, a great young athlete and, above all, a warm and loving little boy.Recently Tommy was diagnosed with a brain tumor and brain cancer. His world and ours was turned upside down, but he has shouldered the surgery and treatments to date with the courage and tenacity of a man. I'm very, very proud of him.I am also extremely proud of a group of young men from TCU who have demonstrated maturity, wisdom and strength far beyond their years; and it's these men I want to share my thanks with.Tommy was introduced "virtually" through a family friend to safeties coach Chad Glasgow. I believe the picture coach received was of Tommy's eighth birthday with his TCU gear and TCU cake. Chad could have sent a nice note encouraging him to get better, and that would have been nice and unexpected.Instead, the coach immediately contacted us and learned all about Tommy. A week later, about 15 cards from TCU players were welcomed at our house by a glowing little boy who can't stop reading the accolades from his gridiron heroes. Recently, while we were in Boston to prepare for Tommy's radiation therapy, Tommy received phone calls of encouragement from these same players. It has been one of his and our treasured moments through this nightmare of an ordeal.These young men -- these exceptional student-athletes from TCU -- have enormous amounts of pressure on their time, and for them to take the time to write very personal and encouraging letters to Tommy and then to follow them up with phone calls is the mark of an exceptional university, an exceptional team and, quite simply, exceptional young men.Tommy is a "military brat." My wife, Leigh, and I are active duty members of the military. As such, Tommy and his two sisters are adept at dealing with hardship brought on by war and multiple deployments. I suppose this has something to do with Tommy's courage and inner strength, and it does explain how a kid from Tacoma wound up following the Frogs (Leigh graduated from TCU school of nursing in 1991). I was previously only connected to TCU by marriage. I can tell you that I have turned into TCU's biggest non-grad fan over the past months.I am a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces. I've spent my entire adult life leading, coaching and mentoring young men. In Special Forces, I enjoy the luxury of working daily with the very best that our country produces. I am extremely proud of my Green Berets and assure everyone that our nation's defense is in the best of hands.I believe today Fort Worth's hometown university is coaching and mentoring some of the finest young men in the country. They wear TCU colors and can be found in the football locker room, many of them in the defensive secondary. The TCU football coaching staff, and specifically coach Glasgow, does the university proud in finding and developing these boys into men -- something that they will take with them long after they leave the football field.At my alma mater, there is a quote that every freshman must memorize: "Upon these fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days and other fields, will bare the fruits of victory." So goes it for your young men as well; their coaches are preparing them well for life -- on the field and off it.Lt. Col. Joe "Jake" McGraw is stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Tacoma, Wash. This column is excerpted from a letter to TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte, with permission from both.