ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – If you’ve seen the newest Albuquerque Police Department recruiting ad, you probably noticed one of the officers featured in it is a hulking figure. The east coast transplant has a very interesting background, from college football to MMA.

Nicholas Acree is one of the Albuquerque Police Department’s newest recruits. “I’ve found the purpose and calling my life in doing this. Just me like, knowing I’m doing a good service that not many people could do,” Acree said. “I’m a protector at heart.”

However, it took the 31-year-old Virginia-native a few career turns to get here. “It was birthed in me but I never thought about it until it happened,” said Acree. “I was playing football and I had so many injuries and so many surgeries, so the NFL was kind of out of the picture.”

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After ACL tears to both knees, the 6’6″ Virginia Tech lineman transitioned to coaching. “So, I finished out my years and ended up just one of the strength coaches. Who wanted to keep me around the program,” Acree said.

Fast forward a few years later, his goal of fighting MMA would bring him to Albuquerque. “I was a campus pastor for a while and I had to lose the football weight, so I just started picking up fighting,” said Acree.

Then last year, his career changed again. “I think being a coach and being a fighter and also being a campus pastor, I think all of those things have prepared me for [this] because they all deal with people,” said Acree.

While helping with defensive tactic training at Albuquerque Police Academy, he started talking with recruiters and eventually joined the department. “I hate bullying, I hate injustice. and so for me, I’ve always stepped into situations to try and be a mediator, so I think it’s just kind of natural,” Acree said. “So honestly it’s like, why not do it for a career and do that with a city or a town or county behind you to back you up?”

While it’s not the life he imagined for himself 10 years ago, he’s ready to dedicate himself to this new chapter in his life. “It wouldn’t have been here, it wouldn’t have been that it probably would’ve been NFL,” Acree says.

He’s ready to dedicate himself to this new chapter in his life. “I’ve committed to Albuquerque to serve for however long God has me here and he knows what’s next,” said Acree.

Acree is set to graduate from the police academy next month.