Their names might not be heard through the stadium speakers every game day, and they might not put up the most stats, but their work ethic, desire and dedication tends to turn a good team into a great team. For college teams around the country, the walk-ons are often the unsung heroes of the team.
Walk-ons are members of athletic teams who do not receive scholarships for playing on the team.
Those who tend to walk on to a college team were often players during their prep or high school careers. Some receive scholarship offers from different schools but choose to turn them down and instead play for a school that offers them different opportunities, whether academic or personal.
Every year, however, some walk-ons are surprised with scholarships as a reward for the work they put in. The App State football team is one of many teams across the country with walk-ons who have received scholarships.
Junior center Ivan Reyes and junior defensive lineman Tommy Dawkins were walk-ons who both received scholarships at the beginning of the 2019 season.
Head coach Eliah Drinkwitz told them that they needed to stay after practice to discuss their meal plans before they were officially awarded scholarships by the coaching staff, according to AppStateSports.com.
Reyes redshirted his freshman year and made his debut against Savannah State in 2017, and has appeared in five games since then.
When Reyes learned of his scholarship, he said it was a very special moment for him.
“I couldn’t control my emotions. It was an unbelievable feeling,” Reyes said. “All that hard work, to see it finally pay off in that moment, it just all came to me at once, and it was amazing.”
Dawkins has played in 13 career games, including three this season, and has recorded seven total tackles. For him, receiving the scholarship showed his effort was worth it in the end.
“It was definitely exciting,” Dawkins said. “It shows my hard work paid off.”
Even though both players earned their scholarships, they know they must keep the team-first attitude that got them to where they are, if they want to have a successful season.
“Winning as a team is bigger than yourself. The team is bigger than yourself,” Reyes said. “My dream would be just going there and winning my fourth conference championship. Being part of that is truly amazing.”