- “I hate to say this, but I like walk-ons better than the scholarship guys a lot of the time. They’re here because they want to be here. And they’re sacrificing a lot more than a lot of people. So, that's big in our hearts.” -Urban Meyer, Ohio State Head Coach, to ESPN
Heart. Many say playing football takes heart. But what takes even more heart than playing for the school that just handed you a full ride scholarship?
If a player walks on a football team, it means he wants to play. He wants to play so badly he’s accepted the fact that he isn’t on scholarship. He’s got so much heart that he’ll do whatever it takes just to play the game he loves for his school.
But time and time again, walk-ons' dreams are starting to come true. Time and time again, a walk-on is granted a scholarship. Time and time again, more videos hit YouTube as a young player gets the surprise of a lifetime. And let me tell you, they’re one of my favorite types of videos to watch. Here’s a few walk-on stories that might make you cheer along with the rest of the team.
Kasey Carson – Western Michigan
Head Coach P.J. Fleck stepped onto a morning session of a practice in full pads. He then informed his team that if a player could stop him, there would be no evening practice and he got to pick the guy he went up against. Coach Fleck turned to his circle of players and called out Linebacker, Kasey Carson...And with the help of Sylvester Stallone, what happened next was absolutely unforgettable. Especially for Kasey.
Kyle Seger – Ball State
Redshirt senior, Kyle Seger, stepped into his team meeting thinking it was just an ordinary meeting with the coaching staff and the rest of his teammates at Ball State. But little did he know, he would walk out of that meeting on scholarship. To make the announcement more memorable, the coaching staff decided to deliver this news in game show fashion. After a few of his fellow teammates had gone up and participated in a charades type of game, it was Kyle’s turn. Once the words on the screen were read, the room erupted. A little confused, Kyle turned around and saw it for himself as his teammates tackled their brother in excitement. On the phone with his parents afterwards, his one sentence says it all:
“[I] finally did it.”
Clark Eyers, Ford Howell, Josh Taylor – North Carolina State
What started as poking fun at certain teammates turned into to an awaited moment for three NC State players. Head Coach Dave Doeren projected different players’ pictures onto the screen, placed next to a character or celebrity that they somewhat looked like during a team meeting, calling it: “State Football Look-A-Likes.” In the final slide, three pictures popped on the screen: Clark Eyers, Ford Howell and Josh Taylor. Coach Doeren called those three up and asked the team what these three guys had in common. “Walk-ons” echoed through the room. Coach Doeren interjected with one word that changed everything for three players: "scholarship."
Danny Doyle – Duke
Head Coach David Cutcliffe started off the team meeting at Duke like any other. But when his phone rang in the middle, he apologized and insisted on taking the call. Answering his phone, he then told junior defensive end Danny Doyle that the call was for him. Danny’s parents waited on the other line, to give their son the surprise he had been waiting for.
It’s easy to see: the love and passion these kids have for the game they play is palpable. And sometimes when you put in enough work for something you really want and love, you are fully rewarded.
Tom Rinaldi and ESPN recently put together a great piece on walk-ons being surprised with scholarship. Check it out here.
Congrats to all the players who worked hard towards their dreams.
Lead Image Credit: Duke Football Video YouTube