10 Things to Know About an Offer for a Preferred Walk-On
Being a preferred walk-on is not the same as being recruited for a scholarship, but it is still a prestigious honor. This invitation from the coaching staff signifies that the player has demonstrated exceptional talent and determination in their sport, and they have earned a place on the team through hard work.
That being said, it can still be a challenge for preferred walk-ons to earn playing time on the field or court. They may not have the same level of support and resources as scholarship athletes, and they may even face competition from recruits each season. However, with dedication and persistence, preferred walk-ons can make a significant impact on their team’s success.
Ultimately, receiving an invitation to join as a preferred walk-on is an accomplishment in itself, and it can open up opportunities for future growth and achievement in the sport.
Here are 10 things you should know about being a Preferred Walk-On:
1. No Scholarship
Applying for a sports team as a walk-on can be a daunting prospect. Not only do you have to prove your athletic abilities, but being a walk-on also means taking on the financial burden of attending college without a scholarship. But for many athletes, it’s worth it for the chance to compete at the collegiate level.
As a preferred walk-on, an athlete may have been recruited by the team, meaning they have been identified as having the potential to contribute and excel. And while they might not receive any financial assistance from the program, they still have access to top-notch coaching and training resources.
The advantage of walking on is that an athlete has more control over their career path; they might start as a bench player but with hard work and dedication, they could earn playing time and even potentially secure a scholarship down the line. Despite the challenges, being a preferred walk-on can pay off in the long run for driven and dedicated athletes.
2. They Received an Invitation
It may come as a surprise to some, but not all talented athletes are recruited during the official NCAA recruiting process. These overlooked athletes may still have a chance to join a team through the practice squad or walk-on program. Often, it is a matter of numbers and roster limits for the coaching staff. However, that doesn’t mean these players are any less skilled or dedicated to the sport.
They often possess a strong drive and determination to prove themselves and earn their spot on the team. Walk-on players bring valuable depth and competition to the roster, pushing their teammates to improve and giving coaches more options for lineup strategies. So, while they may not have been part of the initial recruiting class, walk-ons can bring just as much talent and dedication to a team.
3. Work with an Assistant Coach
The term “walk-on” typically refers to a college athlete who was not recruited or offered a scholarship but instead earns their spot on the team through their dedication and hard work. While it may be assumed that the head coach is the one responsible for bringing in these players, the truth is that often it is assistant coaches who are primarily responsible for recruiting walk-ons.
This is because they have a closer relationship with lower-level teams and therefore have a better understanding of which players have the potential to excel at the collegiate level. In addition, assistant coaches often have more time and resources to scout for talented walk-ons, leaving the head coach free to focus on leading the team and managing recruitment for scholarship athletes.
Ultimately, walk-ons play an important role in rounding out a college sports program, and it is often the assistant coaches who bring these dedicated players onto the team.
4. In Some Cases, it’s a Tryout
Walk-on athletes often have just as much drive and determination as scholarship athletes, but they do not receive the same level of financial support for their athletic pursuits. Despite this disparity, walk-ons are fully dedicated members of their sports teams.
They participate in offseason conditioning programs and spring practices on equal footing with the scholarship players. Walk-ons may sometimes prove to be valuable assets to a team, earning playing time or even a scholarship through their hard work and dedication.
As such, they deserve the same level of respect and recognition as any other member of the team. While their paths may differ, walk-ons share the common goal of striving for success on and off the field. They embody the true spirit of athleticism and teamwork.
5. May or May Not Travel
Many aspiring athletes dream of playing for a major college sports team and receiving an athletic scholarship. However, not all student-athletes have the opportunity to receive a scholarship.
These athletes often become preferred walk-ons, meaning they are recruited by the coaching staff and given a spot on the team without the guarantee of a scholarship or regular playing time. While these players may not travel with their team during the season, they still play an important role in practice and may dress for home games.
Many successful professional athletes began their careers as walk-ons, including former NFL player Kurt Warner and NBA player Adam Morrison. Being a preferred walk-on can be challenging, but it also provides valuable experience and a chance to prove oneself in front of coaches and scouts. Overall, these players should be recognized for their dedication and hard work in their sport.
6. Typically Make the Roster
Many college athletes dream of playing for their dream team at the Division 1 level, but being recruited to that level can be a difficult feat. However, some students choose to become preferred walk-ons, meaning they reach out to the coaching staff and try out for a spot on the roster without a formal recruiting process.
While not all walk-ons are guaranteed a roster spot, preferred walk-ons often have a better chance of making the team due to their self-motivation and initiative. Additionally, they may already have connections within the program or know the team’s specific needs. Overall, preferred walk-ons often have an advantage when it comes to securing a spot on the roster.
7. Opportunity for Scholarship
Many high school athletes dream of earning a Division 1 scholarship to play their sport at the collegiate level. However, not every athlete has the chance to be recruited by the schools they are interested in.
A preferred walk-on offers these athletes an alternative route to playing their sport at the college level. While they may not have received a scholarship offer initially, a preferred walk-on can prove themselves on and off the field, potentially earning a scholarship in the future.
It takes dedication and hard work, but for those who are willing to put in the effort, a preferred walk-on position can lead to becoming a valuable member of a collegiate team with financial support through a scholarship. Ultimately, it is up to each athlete to take advantage of this opportunity and show their worth on and off the field.
8. Every School is Different
The decision to guarantee a preferred walk-on’s spot on a sports team for a set number of years, or to allow them to stay indefinitely until they choose to leave, is a complex one. On one hand, providing a guaranteed spot for a certain period allows the athlete to plan and work towards their goals without the constant worry of being asked to leave suddenly.
However, this may also limit the growth and development of the team as a whole if the preferred walk-on is not meeting certain standards or progress is stagnating. In contrast, allowing them to stay until they choose to leave gives them more flexibility, but could also create instability within the team dynamic.
Ultimately, each school must carefully weigh the pros and cons and decide which option best aligns with its values and goals for its athletics program.
9. Opportunity to Advance
The majority of walk-on players, or athletes who try out for a college team without being initially recruited or offered a scholarship, begin their careers at the bottom of the roster. They often start out as backups or special teams players, working tirelessly to prove themselves and earn playing time.
However, with persistence and determination, these players have the potential to work their way up to starting roles on the team. Some of the most successful athletes in college sports were originally walk-ons who earned their spot through sheer grit and hard work.
While walk-ons may have to work harder than those who were sought after by coaches, they have just as much chance at success and can bring a unique drive and passion to their team. As such, they should never be underestimated or viewed as inferior athletes.
Instead, they should be given equal opportunities and support as they strive toward their goals on the field.
10. You Can Make it to the Pros
Despite the odds, walk-ons can still achieve success in the NFL. While they may start at a disadvantage by not being selected to join a team during the draft, their determination and perseverance can often lead them to make a name for themselves.
One only needs to look at recent examples such as James White, who was crucial in leading the New England Patriots to victory in Super Bowl LI, or Matthew Slater, who has earned seven Pro Bowl selections as a special teams player.
Of course, it requires a true commitment and passion for the sport to overcome the challenges of being a walk-on. However, those who do put in the effort can certainly find success at the highest level of football.
Being a preferred walk-on can be a great way to extend your football career at the collegiate level if you don’t receive an offer from another school or if you want to play for your favorite team growing up. It’s important to remember that you will still have to work hard and may not get much playing time early on in your career, but it can be a great opportunity nonetheless if you are willing to put in the effort!