Bulldog Blitz Reporter
While many people idolize athletes at the professional and collegiate levels, most people do not know what goes on behind the scenes at that level.
Briggs Jarrard, a senior at Samford University, was a part of the Division I football program at Samford. But unlike most athletes on the team, Briggs did not receive a full or even partial scholarship. He was known as a “walk-on”.
A walk-on is an athlete who may or may not be recruited by different schools. While many athletes receive scholarships to participate in athletics, there are only so many scholarships available. After the scholarships have been used up, players may still join the team if they have made the final roster.
A walk-on has a unique perspective much different from that of an athlete on scholarship. Athletes on a scholarship can dedicate themselves entirely to the sport, while walk-ons must still find a way to pay for their school and keep up with their classes.
While walk-ons may not receive all the attention or praise from fans, their hard work is often most evident to other players on the team. Walk-ons are frequently a part of the practice squad that helps prepare the starters throughout the days leading up to the game.
A few examples of high-profile athletes who had to walk on their college teams are J.J. Watt, Scottie Pippen, and Ryan Howard, each of whom is highly respected in their individual professional sports. While the majority of walk-ons do not go on to play professionally, athletes such as these pave the way for others to follow in their footsteps.
Briggs described to me the process of how he walked onto the team. “I had been in contact with some of the coaches my freshman year, even the summer prior when I attended a Samford football camp… I got people’s information and was able to insert myself into the conversation.” Briggs played for two official years, electing to red-shirt his freshman year.
He said that one of the most important things to the process is to meet with the coaches, in addition to attending football camps in the summer. He proceeded to stay in contact with the team, who reviewed his high school highlights and continued to display interest in him. After they reviewed his film and stats, they offered him an opportunity to join the team in the spring of 2020.
Briggs ended his college football career after his junior year but said that he enjoyed the experience and the lessons that being a part of the team taught him.
When speaking about what coaches look for in a walk-on, he described it as a “willingness to put the work in.” That no matter what mistakes you make, you have the mentality that you will continue to work hard, regardless of the obstacles in your way.