Despite what most people think, not every NCAA athlete gets a full-ride college scholarship.
As coaches have noted throughout the country, there is no better feeling than awarding a scholarship to a player who has been paying his own way.
This is what sports should always be about. Hard work, accomplishments and teammates celebrating the special moment. So with that, here are some of the best moments and reactions to players receiving scholarships.
Warning, you might want to grab some tissues.
1. Justin Juenemann – Minnesota
Minnesota back-up kicker Justin Junemann was surprised with a full-ride scholarship by head coach PJ Fleck last month. The senior, who serves at the University of Minnesota’s children’s hospital, was praised for his great example in front of the team.
Fleck, brought in a patient named Kyle and asked who his favorite player was — which of course was Junemann. Fleck then grabbed a t-shirt cannon and handed it to Kyle to shoot at Junemann. After launching the shirt, Junemann made a nice grab before sitting back down. After Coach Fleck motioned for him to stand up and read what was on the shirt, Junemann was all smiles as he read, “Justin Congrats On Earning A Scholarship.”
“I’ve never seen anybody who serves and gives more than that guy (Junemann), and who is not a star player. … He could easily not do it and nobody would ever say anything. But he does it anyway.” – PJ Fleck
— World News Tonight (@ABCWorldNews) August 14, 2017
2. Paul Toala – Utah
Before giving a scholarship to offensive lineman Paul Toala — whose mother had passed away while he was serving an LDS mission — University of Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham addressed the team before making the special announcement.
“The best part of my job, the thing I enjoy the very most, is when we get a chance as a coaching staff to reward a guy who’s paying his own way, a walk-on who’s here for the love of the game. They don’t get scholarship checks. They pay their own tuition. They pay their own housing. They pay their own meals,” Whittingham said before he called out Toala’s name.
As expected, the team jumped for joy and celebrated after the announced as they high-fived, hugged and cheered Toala on as he dedicated the scholarship to his late mother.
.@UtahCoachWhitt's favorite part of his job? Awarding scholarships.
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) August 6, 2017
3. Riley Miller – Ball State
Riley Miller lined up for a drill during Ball State football practice last month unaware his life was about to change. The 2015 Yorktown graduate was about to go from walk-on to scholarship athlete.
As Miller was lining up for a drill, unaware of what was about to take place, Ball State head coach Mike Neu announced that he had earned a scholarship and then quickly got out of the way as a large mob of Ball State players quickly swarmed Miller.
— Ball State Football (@BallStateFB) August 17, 2017
4. Eli Wolf – Tennessee
Tennessee tight end Eli Wolf followed in his brother’s footsteps to Knoxville to play for the Vols. However, Eli wasn’t on scholarship as Tennessee head coach Butch Jones called on the brothers to go head-to-head in practice.
However, as the two geared up for the drill, Jones revealed the happy news and told him he was getting a scholarship. His teammates quickly surrounded him as they chanted his name.
“I was thinking the whole time about putting (Ethan) on his butt,” Eli told reporters before being awarded a scholarship. “The last thing I was thinking about was getting a scholarship.”
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) August 15, 2017
5. Kaulana Apelu – Oregon
It’s not usually a good sign when you hear your mom at practice, but for Oregon junior linebacker Kaulana Apelu, it turned out to be a pretty good thing.
Before lining up for a drill, Apelu’s mom appeared on the scoreboard with an important announcement as she told her son — now a former walk-on — that he was going to be on scholarship. As the news broke, Apelu’s teammates instantly mobbed him as they celebrated his achievement.
— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) August 21, 2017
6. Coco Darden – Western Kentucky
Nobody likes warmups, but for Western Kentucky football player Coco Darden, it turned out to be a dream come true. Before the team started practice, WKU head coach Mike Sanford had Darden lead the team in some exercises.
After a team cheer and before the team dispersed for drills, Sanford had some good news to share as he announced that Darden had been awarded a scholarship.
— WKU Football (@WKUFootball) August 14, 2017
7. Austin Webster – Notre Dame
Austin Webster became the first walk-on in Irish history to be named a team captain. Now the wide receiver is on scholarship for his senior season.
As the team toured their new game day locker room, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly made a special announcement to the team as he awarded Webster a scholarship.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 11, 2017
8. Jaxon Uhles – Oklahoma
A week before Oklahoma opened up the season against UTEP, Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley awarded former walk-on fullback Jaxon Uhles with a scholarship. The team announced the special moment on Twitter as Riley made the announcement before a team cheer.
Uhles, is mostly a special teams player for the Sooners, but could also see time in the backfield if running back Dimitri Flowers goes down.
Uhles, who graduated from Norman North High School jsut down the road from the University of Oklahoma, is also star quarterback Baker Mayfield’s roommate. The Sooners’ QB tweeted his support after the news broke:
— Baker Mayfield (@baker_mayfield6) August 25, 2017
— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) August 25, 2017
9. Luke Timian — Indiana
Indiana head coach Tom Allen brought wide receiver Luke Timian up to the front of the classroom and had him sing the Hoosiers’ fight song in front of his teammates.
Timian, who was a walk-on last year, starting singing the song when a message appeared on the projector screen right behind him which read, “LUKE JUST EARNED A SCHOLARSHIP!”
In the middle of the song, the junior turned around to see what everyone was cheering about as his teammates quickly mobbed him.
Timian, appeared in all 13 games last year for Indiana as a sophomore, catching 19 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown. He was named Indiana’s Outstanding Walk-On Player of the Year.
— Indiana Football (@HoosierFootball) August 18, 2017
10. Jordan Howard — Utah
There was a time when Utah running back Jordan Howard didn’t think he was going to ever play football again after he was shot, along with four of his other friends by a gunman who opened fire at them as they were walking to go to a movie.
Years later and as a walk-on, Howard is now officially part of the Utes football team as head coach Kyle Whittingham made the announcement as quarterback Troy Williams was doing several impressions of him before the announcement was made.
Howard rushed for 32 yards on just five carries during the 2016 season for an average of 6.4 yards per carry.
— Utah Football (@Utah_Football) August 15, 2017