Walking On At Kentucky

The University of Kentucky Football program has always depended on walk-ons, most recently players like Jeff Zurcher, James Whalen Jr., Patrick Wiggins, Coleman Barnes, Andy Smith, Grayson Smith and the list goes on. With the reductions of scholarships due to the NCAA probation, walk-ons are now a very important part of Guy Morriss's football program.

Each year we all hear of walk-ons earning scholarships for the upcoming year, these are the guys who have worked their tails off on the field and in the classroom and are rewarded for their effort.

UK wants walk-ons but they can not recruit them. According to Sandy Bell, it is extremely important especially for the prospective student-athlete to remain non-recruited. If either UK or the student does anything to make them recruited then they are not eligible for an athletic grant-in-aid and also prevent them from receiving need based aid which the NCAA considers "countable".

There are three basic rules for deeming a student-athlete recruited. First, UK can not provide an official visit to the student. Second, no member of UK's staff can have an off-campus contact with them, their parents or legal guardians for the purpose of recruitment. And lastly, UK can not initiate a phone conversation more than one occasion.

Boosters (referred to by the NCAA as "representatives of our athletic interest") can cause serious problems when they try to get involved in the recruiting process. Each university is responsible for the actions of their fans including web sites established by boosters.

With UK needing quality walk-ons and the rules limiting them in contacting the recruits, it is important for the prospective walk-on to remember that he needs to be the one who contacts UK and the Coaching staff. You never know when a walk-on will become the next James Whalen Jr., UK's all-American TE, he came to the coaching staff with a tape of his own high-lights and thereby getting a chance to prove himself.

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