July 29, 2007

Walk-ons push through rigors of football

So you're a walk-on.

You've decided to forego any other options at lower levels of college football in favor of paying your own way at a Division I-A school. But while you may think that decision was difficult, you haven't seen anything yet. Now it's time to suit up, work out, and play football.

The difference for you is that the chances of ever getting on the field are very low. So you'll be putting in the same amount of work and submitting your body to the same torture as the scholarship players, just with little to no hopes of reward.

But then again, you knew that was the deal from the time you signed up, didn't you?

"It's a different mindset as a walk-on," says Pitt kicker Conor Lee, who walked on with the Panthers in the spring of 2004. "In my second spring here, I was getting really frustrated. I wasn't getting reps and I was like 'I guess this isn't going to work out.' I just had to hold onto the belief that something good was going to happen."

For Lee, something good eventually did happen: he earned starting place kicker duties last August and served as the team's kicker throughout the 2006 season, connecting on 12 of 14 field goals and all 47 extra point attempts. For his efforts, in January he earned the ultimate payoff for a walk-on: a scholarship.

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