Things you should be aware of before deciding you want to walk on at a Division I college football program

Things you should be aware of before walking on at a Division I college football programAs high school football recruits around the country near making their college decisions, one option that some will take is to walk-on at a Division I program.  Taking this walk-on basically means that you are guaranteed very little.  If you struggle and fizzle out, then the coaches are out only the little time that they spent recruiting you.

If things work out, then you will likely be eventually put on scholarship and the media will love the story about how you went from a lowly walk-on to a scholarship player.  But for those seniors that are considering taking up the coaches and accepting a preferred walk-on spot, there are a few things to keep in mind before making the final call.

Will I be on the 85-man roster in August?
According to NCAA rules, Division I-A (BCS) schools can only bring 85 players in when they report in early August.  Many of these athletes are on scholarship but obviously there will be some walk-ons as well.  If you are not included among these 85-players, then you will start practice on whatever date school officially starts.  You will behind a great deal as a walk-on no matter what.  But missing the first few weeks of camp will make it even harder.

Some schools will bring their top walk-ons in this early in hopes that they are able to work their way into being a scholarship athlete.  Others will not.  It is unique to every situation and it depends on the school, the coaches, and how much they like you.  The sought after walk-ons normally get an early invite in a decent amount of situations.

How many walk-ons have been able to work their way from a walk-on to a scholarship athlete?
There are certain schools across the country that have a great deal of the touching stories about how many of their athletes have went from zero to a hero in just a few years.  Make sure to ask the coaches about that and try to find out as much as you can about the success stories.

The good news for walk-ons is that they can have a huge mountain sized chip on their shoulder as they should be putting in the time to become a scholarship athlete.  If you want some motivation, just take a look at your loan paperwork and think about paying that for four years.  You will always have a reason to keep working harder and harder.

Is my position conducive for a walk-on to have success?
Outside of just wanting to play at the Division I level, it is always surprising to me when a player walks-on at a position like quarterback.  Division I schools obviously are only going to play one quarterback at a time so where exactly will a walk-on be able to see time?  The success stories of a walk-on quarterback are very, very limited.

Some of the positions that I have seen athletes have success in are kicker, punter, and safety.  For whatever reason, these three are the ones that I see the most athletes go from walk-on to scholarship player.

What else will I be missing outside of training tables?
The college will fit the bill for training table where athletes eat huge quantities in order to gain weight.  But if you are a walk-on, the training table is not something that you will be seeing until you are put on scholarship.  So the cost of food will be added to your tuition bill overall.  Talk to the coaches about what else you will be missing out on.

Will I be able to travel with the team?
Especially in the first year, very few walk-ons end up traveling with the team.  That means you will have to sit at home while the team is traveling across the country.  In subsequent years, a chance to travel with the team may arise.  But in the first year, you will have to really impress the coaches to be able to travel.

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