All Are Not Created Equal – Pros and Cons of a Walk On

FROM THE CHEAP SEATS:  All walk on programs are NOT created equal.

The idea that “making” your way to a walk on spot means you’re part of the team can be deceiving.  Walk On programs are really a courtesy that was created to give most of the benefit to the college.  It allows them a way to have a pool of back up players without assuming the scholarship risk.  You are NOT on scholarship which means they are not required to have you workout with the scholarship players or provide any of their benefits.  Now some programs will treat all players the same within as much as they can without violating the rules.  Checking with other players (scholarshipped and walk ons) at the school of interest to see how their programs are run prior to taking the leap might not be a bad idea.  Let’s dig a little further.


PREFERRED WALK ON – Has a guaranteed spot on the roster once a scholarship opens up.  Is usually recruited by a football program.  Must be a full time student academically with the college.

RECRUITED WALK ON – Usually recruited by a football program.  Is not guaranteed a spot on the roster.  Must be a full time student academically with the college.

NOT RECRUITED WALK ON – Not usually recruited by a football program and is not guaranteed a spot on the roster.


1) Your football clock doesn’t have to start.  At DI you have 5 years to play 4 seasons of football.  At the DII or DIII level you have your first 10 semesters or 15 quarters to complete 4 seasons of football. A football clock doesn’t start until you attend a college full time (at any level) or enroll part time at the DII or DIII level and compete for the school.  If you are trying out for a walk on spot and try outs aren’t until spring semester you can enroll in your attended school in the fall part time (with no competition).  This will give you a chance to be accepted at the school, get use to college life, and network with the coaches and the possible team until you spring.

2) You can get into the academic school of your choosing.  Remember that football is helping you to get an education so choose a school that IF football does not carry you thru college you can still get the degree you want.

3) The ability to compete in other sports is an option if you attend a school that may be giving only partial scholarships.  If you must attend full time in the fall and are interested in another sport, looking for a scholarship in that sport could then help you circle around to a walk on tryout later.


1) One of the only things that can give back a year of eligibility is a waiver.  A redshirt opportunity just burns the 5th year of your football clock.  So, once you enroll full time, you are ON THE CLOCK.

2) Coaches leave programs.  College sports is a BUSINESS despite what you are sold in the recruiting process.  While they may love what they do, a coach still has goals and those may include moving up the ranks or working at a dream school of their own.  If a coach leaves not even a preferred walk on spot is guaranteed with a new coaching staff.  Make sure you stay eligible to transfer.

3) To get a permanent spot on the team they may convert you.  As with high school ball, the team’s needs come first.  To achieve a paid for education moving to a different position may be the sacrifice.  You’ll have to decide how bad you want to make the team.

Let us know if you have more questions otherwise HAPPY RECRUITING!


Mo Thomas

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