If you are anything like myself, when you hear the term "Scout Team" in a conversation your ears might perk up for a minute listening for some juicy tidbit before your mind goes back to processing more important thoughts like "How is Zabransky progressing?" or "Is Shou staying healthy?" or "Oooh….cheerleaders!" But if you were to poll the average fan at any given game, you would likely find that only a small percentage could name even one player on the scout team, let alone tell you what the scout team is.
The goal of every player that comes to play on the Blue is the same: to run out of the smoking helmet into a stadium filled with 30,000 frenzied fans, hear your name announced, make that big hit that makes the crowd collectively groan, or make the throw or catch in the end zone to hear a deafening roar. It is what each player is there for, but what does it take to get there?
Getting to this point is almost a rite of passage for virtually every player. Save for the Marty Tadman's and Orlando Scandrick's of the football world, every player you know and love has been through that rite where the blue collar mentality is established and record-setters rise to the top. Scout team players have a tremendous workload and the most thankless job on the team. They are tasked with learning and running the opposing team's offense or defense, getting their bodies matured through weight and cardio training, maintaining grades in all their classes, going up against the first-teamers in practice, and then somehow find time to learn the actual playbook for the team.
Usually made up of true freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and sophomores, these are boys among men. Going up against the hardened veterans of the first-team offense and defense that have been in the program for years, practices can be and often are brutal and punishing. The lessons they learn during these beatings are what make the foundation for each player's success. For these players, game day happens five days a week, and they have the added responsibility to mimic the opposing team's lineup well enough that the first and second team players will be prepared for the upcoming week. This takes up the majority of their time, leaving precious little extra for working towards actual playing time.
Most, if not all, of these players were the stars of their high school team or maybe even their entire conference or state. The mental aspect of their time spent on the scout team is as difficult as the physical beatings they often take. For those who are lucky enough to be on scholarship, their hard work nets them a monthly scholarship check that barely covers meals. For those who are walk-ons, life is that much more difficult. The strain this puts on the players can be seen every year with the attrition of players that leave the team in the fall and spring.
Every year, however, there are those names that rise up from the trenches of the scout team to get the attention of the coaches. Standouts from the scout teams are a who's who of Bronco football, including Ryan Dinwiddie, Legedu Naanee, Bush Hamdan, and Ian Johnson, along with names sure to be future stars like Jeremy Childs and Richie Brockel. At the end of the day, though, all this attention gets them is a shot next season at maybe making the game day squad.
When it comes down to it, coaches will tell you the gratitude they feel towards the scout team players and what they do for the team. We as fans should remember to do the same.