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Mavric

Where Is It OK to Start Walk-Ons?

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Great question from a caller on S&B just now.

 

Where is it "OK" to have a walk-on as a starter - according to fans?  His example: it's OK to have a walk-on starting at WR - Brandon Reilly for example - but not "OK" to have a walk-on starting at quarterback.

 

What does HuskerBoard think?

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IMO, anywhere where the walk-on is clearly better than a scholarship athlete. 

 

I have no problem with Andrew Bunch starting if he's clearly better than Gebbia and Martinez. 

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This question baffles me.

 

If the walk-on is the best at any position, play the walk-on.  We have had walk-ons have success at just about every position in the past.

 

If Bunch is the best QB, play him.

Edited by BigRedBuster

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I'm pretty much ok with walk-ons being starters at your specialist spots (K/P/LS), and occasionally OL/DL/LB.  You should never have a walk on at WR/QB/RB/Secondary unless something truly crazy happens/you absolutely whiff at recruiting.

 

OL/DL can be tricky to predict and sometimes you get a guy that just makes huge strides and pushes his way into earning some playing time.  For whatever reason Nebraska seems to get a pretty good LB out of a walk on every few years or so.  Weber being the latest example.

Edited by Xmas32

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I don't think that's quite the angle he was going for.

 

It's more if a walk-on works his way into a starting job at OL or WR, a lot of fans will embrace that as showing the value of the walk-on tradition and rewarding the guy for his hard work.  But if a walk-on were to start at QB or RB, it would be viewed as the guys we recruited at those positions being failures and a sign that our recruiting wasn't getting the job done.

 

Edit: This was in reply to @Cdog923 and @BigRedBuster

Edited by Mavric

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I think the best player should play, regardless of scholarship player or walk-on.  That goes for all positions.  However, starting "too many" walk-ons can show deficiencies in recruiting.

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I'm gonna take it as a trick question. All of our starters should be on scholarship, even if they started a walk on:thumbs 

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2 minutes ago, Mavric said:

I don't think that's quite the angle he was going for.

 

It's more if a walk-on works his way into a starting job at OL or WR, a lot of fans will embrace that as showing the value of the walk-on tradition and rewarding the guy for his hard work.  But if a walk-on were to start at QB or RB, it would be viewed as the guys we recruited at those positions being failures and a sign that our recruiting wasn't getting the job done.

 

Ahh, I get it. 

 

That is absolutely how it's going to be perceived if Bunch is named starter, or if Wyatt Mazour was named starter at RB. Those are the "money" positions in recruiting that get the most attention in recruiting. It could be that way at any position that a team has recruiting highly at for a number of years, though. What if a guy like Owen Pappoe comes to Nebraska, but gets beat out by a Chris Weber. Would we be ok with the look of that? 

 

 

Edited by Cdog923

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Just now, Mavric said:

I don't think that's quite the angle he was going for.

 

It's more if a walk-on works his way into a starting job at OL or WR, a lot of fans will embrace that as showing the value of the walk-on tradition and rewarding the guy for his hard work.  But if a walk-on were to start at QB or RB, it would be viewed as the guys we recruited at those positions being failures and a sign that our recruiting wasn't getting the job done.

 

I tried to make a similar point.  It is concerning if recruiting targets at key skill positions like QB and RB aren't able to beat out a walk-on guy at those spots.  Too me, it shows failure in recruiting rather than a walk-on having a ton of overlooked talent.

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2 minutes ago, Mavric said:

I don't think that's quite the angle he was going for.

 

It's more if a walk-on works his way into a starting job at OL or WR, a lot of fans will embrace that as showing the value of the walk-on tradition and rewarding the guy for his hard work.  But if a walk-on were to start at QB or RB, it would be viewed as the guys we recruited at those positions being failures and a sign that our recruiting wasn't getting the job done.

 

Edit: This was in reply to @Cdog923 and @BigRedBuster

 

I understood what he was getting at.

 

My point is, I don't agree with fans with that attitude.

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Walk-ons typically don't have scholarships for a reason, typically because their measurables aren't as good coming out of high school. At some positions, hard work and coaching can overcome those deficiencies.

A walk-on OL can get to be a starter by living in the weight room and having the right mentality.

A walk-on WR can do the same, but he's likely going to be limited in some area (height, speed, elusiveness) so he has to develop a niche. If he does, he can still help the offense because we need a variety of receivers.

A walk-on QB has the hardest battle because not only is he dealing with the same physical limitations that many walk-ons have, he is also competing for just 1 spot. If he ends up starting that usually means he overcame many of those limitations, the services missed him, or the scholarship guys were busts/hurt.

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Joe Ganz was a scholarship player from Illinois.  However, he was very low rated at .7889 out of HS.  If he were from Nebraska, I have no doubt he would have been asked to walk-on.....and, if he was the typical Nebraska kid, he would have done so.

 

There were a lot of Husker fans that were claiming he would never see the field as a player.

 

So.....if he were actually from Nebraska, rated the same and asked to walk-on, should he have never started.....just because he was a walk-on?

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I think it only matters when that walk-on doesn't seem to be performing and we are wondering why the scholly player is riding pine... Like when Dylan Utter kept getting worked 

Edited by BIG ERN

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Baker Mayfield was a walkon.  Just sayin'. 

 

Also, if we're talking about Bunch - he was a 3 star prospect, with some small degree of D1 interest/offers.

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At one time or another we've started a walk-on, or former walk-on, at every position on the field.  Even QB.  (The legend of The Turmanator!)

 

The  most common positions for walk-on starters are probably fullback, punter and kicker.  Lately though we don't play a fullback much.  That, and we give scholies to punters and kickers.  So I'm not sure what the answer is.   

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6 minutes ago, BIG ERN said:

I think it only matters when that walk-on doesn't seem to be performing and we are wondering why the scholly player is riding pine... Like when Dylan Utter kept getting worked 

This. If a guy is performing, people will be excited about a walk on starting. If he is struggling out there, people will start asking questions.

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Like said above, the best player at any given position should play regardless if they're a scholarship athlete or walk on.

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There are 2 ways of thinking about this.

 

The no-brainer way - you start the walk-on if he's better.

 

 

But maybe the question was more wondering, if a walk on is starting, does that mean our recruiting sucks? And at what positions must the recruiting suck if we have walk ons starting there?

 

That's what's been debated here quite a bit.

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I think it's less about position, and more about quantity. One or two walk-ons starting isn't a concern, 3-4 and maybe you should worry about your player assessment in recruiting. 

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2 minutes ago, bugeater17 said:

I mean technically Baker Mayfield was a walk-on initially (after he transferred to OU). 

Mayfield actually walked-on at Texas Tech after getting some non-Power 5 scholarship offers.  He did start at one of the top high school teams in Texas, and wasn't a "typical walk-on" guy.  I can't remember if he won the Texas Tech job outright as a true freshman or ended up starting due to injury, but he did start as a true frosh.  When he wasn't guaranteed the starting job the following season, that's when he decided to transfer to OU.

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32 minutes ago, default_28 said:

One or two walk-ons starting isn't a concern, 3-4 and maybe you should worry about your player assessment in recruiting. 

This is sort of where my mind is at.

 

To be clear, I believe you play the best player. Period. It doesn't matter if they're a walk-on or a highly touted recruit from Florida. But, I also believe it's fair to evaluate the player assessment and recruiting if it's warranted. Year one under Frost is going to receive some leniences and those are deserved. However, if you're routinely 'missing' on guys you need to hit on and supplementing with a walk-on, that may require some soul searching. It's just very case dependent.

 

It's not one over the other in all cases. There were definitely some times in recent Husker history where I felt a former walk-on was largely starting because of a lack of depth and reliable competition at that spot.

 

In some of the above examples, I think people will view quarterback differently just on the inherent nature of the position. Fair or not, some people won't want to hear that a walk-on is starting at the most important position on the field.

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56 minutes ago, Moiraine said:

There are 2 ways of thinking about this.

 

The no-brainer way - you start the walk-on if he's better.

 

 

But maybe the question was more wondering, if a walk on is starting, does that mean our recruiting sucks? And at what positions must the recruiting suck if we have walk ons starting there?

 

That's what's been debated here quite a bit.

 

I won't deny that's how it's commonly framed, though I would take some exception to it.

 

Walk-ones are merely players who have yet to get a scholarship. They're not worse players. They weren't even necessarily unrecruited players. They simply, for one reason or another, do not yet have a football scholarship. Many eventually do get one. Do they suddenly become better when that happens?

 

Coach DeWitt said it best. He doesn't necessarily know who is a scholarship player and who isn't, and he doesn't necessarily care.

 

 

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I'm with BRB.  This is dumb.  Best man for the job, regardless of the job is the starter.  If we limit walkons to certain positions we lose walk ons.  And we potentially lose games.

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I think it's okay to start a walk-on at any position they are the best player. Period.

Sure that may at times indicate some failure of recruiting but there are never any guarantees and it is what it is. Best player plays. Don't care if it's a 5 star ESPN top 50 player or a walk-on from Podunk Nebraska.

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Scheme change and injuries are two factors to consider before evaluating recruiting. Since we rarely recruit the ready to play 5 stars, development could be an issue. If higher rated recruits aren’t willing to put in the work then better screening of recruits’ character is needed. Frost is facing all these issues so if a walkon starts I won’t be surprised.

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48 minutes ago, brophog said:

 

I won't deny that's how it's commonly framed, though I would take some exception to it.

 

Walk-ones are merely players who have yet to get a scholarship. They're not worse players. They weren't even necessarily unrecruited players. They simply, for one reason or another, do not yet have a football scholarship. Many eventually do get one. Do they suddenly become better when that happens?

 

Coach DeWitt said it best. He doesn't necessarily know who is a scholarship player and who isn't, and he doesn't necessarily care.

 

 

 

 

Walk ons are walk ons for a reason. They either aren't as good as the scholarship players or were underestimated by coaches. That can change in a season or even less time.

 

There are those from both categories who have potential that wasn't noticed by the coaches and turn into great players. 4-5 years is a long time - players can improve a lot in that time.

 

Long story short, I disagree that walk ons aren't worse (when they join the program). Most are worse - that's why they're walk ons. That said, a walk on starting doesn't mean the scholarship players are bad. It can also mean the walk on turned into a great player.

Edited by Moiraine

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2 hours ago, BigRedBuster said:

I understood what he was getting at.

 

My point is, I don't agree with fans with that attitude.

 

So if we were starting 22 walk-ons you wouldn't have any issues?

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21 minutes ago, Mavric said:

 

So if we were starting 22 walk-ons you wouldn't have any issues?

 

If the team was successful, no. 

 

But, your example is pretty nonsensical. 

 

 

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1 minute ago, BigRedBuster said:

 

If the team was successful, no. 

 

But, your example is pretty nonsensical. 

 

 

What qualifies successful?

 

If the team went 9-3 and won the west with a bunch of walk-ons starting, you wouldn't be disappointed that we didn't have the scholarship talent to win those other 3 games?

 

Only a title season would make starting a bunch of walk-ons a nonfactor in my opinion. Otherwise you're still left with the what could of been possibilities.

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14 minutes ago, BigRedBuster said:

If the team was successful, no. 

 

But, your example is pretty nonsensical. 

 

You are confusing nonsensical with improbable.

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28 minutes ago, Mavric said:

 

You are confusing nonsensical with improbable.

Soo.......an improbably example really doesn't add much to the conversation.

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50 minutes ago, default_28 said:

What qualifies successful?

 

If the team went 9-3 and won the west with a bunch of walk-ons starting, you wouldn't be disappointed that we didn't have the scholarship talent to win those other 3 games?

 

Only a title season would make starting a bunch of walk-ons a nonfactor in my opinion. Otherwise you're still left with the what could of been possibilities.

If we won a national championship with 22 walk-ons, would you be upset we were starting walk-ons?

This has about the same probability as Mav's example of starting 22 walk-ons.

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25 minutes ago, BigRedBuster said:

If we won a national championship with 22 walk-ons, would you be upset we were starting walk-ons?

This has about the same probability as Mav's example of starting 22 walk-ons.

No, as my comment says, I would have no issue with 22 walk-ons if we won the whole thing. Anything short of that though, and I would be disappointed. I'm not anti walk-ons if they're the best we have, but I think that if you're starting large numbers of them in your team then success is a much more specific outcome.

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16 minutes ago, default_28 said:

No, as my comment says, I would have no issue with 22 walk-ons if we won the whole thing. Anything short of that though, and I would be disappointed. I'm not anti walk-ons if they're the best we have, but I think that if you're starting large numbers of them in your team then success is a much more specific outcome.

Let's be clear.  The original question in the OP didn't have anything to do with numbers of walk-ons starting.  It had to do with what position would you be upset that a walk-on was starting.  Very different discussion.

 

So, let's stick with reality and that's anywhere from maybe 2-4 walk-ons starting.  I have absolutely zero problem with that if those are the best players at the position and they are playing at a high level...no matter what position that is.

 

Now, as to the question of "success".  Sitting here right now, if we started 4 walk-ons next year and they compete at a level needed for the team to go win 10 games next year, I would be very happy.  If we are starting 4 walk-ons 5 years from now and we still haven't won a conference title, I would be disappointed.  But, I wouldn't automatically blame the walk-ons  That's ludicrous and not fair to them.  If the scholarship players can't beat them out, that's on THEM....not the walk-ons.  AND....there are 18 other starters (scholarship players)  that play a major roll in not winning championships too.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, BigRedBuster said:

Let's be clear.  The original question in the OP didn't have anything to do with numbers of walk-ons starting.  It had to do with what position would you be upset that a walk-on was starting.  Very different discussion.

 

So, let's stick with reality and that's anywhere from maybe 2-4 walk-ons starting.  I have absolutely zero problem with that if those are the best players at the position and they are playing at a high level...no matter what position that is.

 

Now, as to the question of "success".  Sitting here right now, if we started 4 walk-ons next year and they compete at a level needed for the team to go win 10 games next year, I would be very happy.  If we are starting 4 walk-ons 5 years from now and we still haven't won a conference title, I would be disappointed.  But, I wouldn't automatically blame the walk-ons  That's ludicrous and not fair to them.  If the scholarship players can't beat them out, that's on THEM....not the walk-ons.  AND....there are 18 other starters (scholarship players)  that play a major roll in not winning championships too.

 

 

I'm trying to imply that I would be blaming Joe Walkon for not winning enough games, just that at some point if your scholarship players are routinely getting beat out by guys that didn't get a good enough offer to play somewhere else it's a problem. I agree with the points you've made about us having had successful walk-ons at every position, and that there are 18 other guys on the field. That's the reason that I brought up the number of walk-ons to begin with, if forced to start a WO at any position even QB you can overcome that with superior talent at the other positions. If its more than a couple though.....

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21 minutes ago, default_28 said:

I'm trying to imply that I would be blaming Joe Walkon for not winning enough games,

 

I'm assuming you worded this wrong.

 

To the rest of your post.

 

If a kid grows up in Cozad Nebraska without exposure to recruiting services and camps, is asked to walk-on and beats out players....because he is actually damn good.  I don't give a flying rip if he's a walk-on and it has absolutely no part of if I'm upset that he's beating out scholarship players.  Why would it???  He's playing at a high level and playing for the Huskers.  I don't understand your logic.....just because other schools didn't offer him out of HS???  I'm just damn happy we found him and have him on our team.

 

You seem to be assuming the walk-on is more than likely going to be the weakest link on the team.

Edited by BigRedBuster

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1 minute ago, BigRedBuster said:

 

I'm assuming you worded this wrong.

 

To the rest of your post.

 

If a kid grows up in Cozad Nebraska without exposure to recruiting services and camps, is asked to walk-on and beats out players....because he is actually damn good.  I don't give a flying rip if he's a walk-on and it has absolutely no part of if I'm upset that he's beating out scholarship players.  Why would it???  He's playing at a high level and playing for the Huskers.  I don't understand your logic.....just because other schools didn't offer him out of HS???  I'm just damn happy we found him and have him on our team.

 

You seem to be assuming the walk-on is more than likely going to be the weakest link on the team.

That is exactly what I'm assuming. We're not the only school that scouts Nebraska, and the kids that are in state and elite get recognized. Is it possible for a kid to be a late bloomer or to slip through the cracks? Of course, but that should be the exception not the rule. You're making it about an individual position battle, and saying its no concern. I'm talking about the team as a whole and what it means for us on an institutional level if too much of our talent is dependent upon uncovering these hidden gems.

 

To be clear, if a kid from Cozad is more talented than the other players than he should play and good on him. I'm not going to root against him just because he wasn't highly recruited or from the south, but if our coaches didn't think he was as good as players they did offer scholarships to, why is it hard to believe that I might come to that same conclusion.

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7 minutes ago, default_28 said:

That is exactly what I'm assuming.

Why?

 

So...if Danny Woodhead would have walked on and became the starter....to you....he still would have been the weakest link on the team.

7 minutes ago, default_28 said:

To be clear, if a kid from Cozad is more talented than the other players than he should play and good on him. I'm not going to root against him just because he wasn't highly recruited or from the south, but if our coaches didn't think he was as good as players they did offer scholarships to, why is it hard to believe that I might come to that same conclusion.

Ummm....you can have the same opinion out of HS.  But, if the kid excels in Lincoln and beats out the scholarship players, it's obvious the coaches have changed their minds.....many times then giving the kid a scholarship.


So, the coaches can change their minds.  The bigger question is....why can't you?

 

 

Edited by BigRedBuster

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I get the QB thing, but in a situation where we're changing systems it wouldn't be surprising if Bunch is just a better fit for the offense than Gebbia.

 

In a few years it will be more of a head-scratcher if a walk-on is starting there.

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Starting a walk on at QB shouldn't happen unless it's in an extreme emergency because if the coach did anything right, there would be enough scholarship QB's developed enough to start.

 

The top programs in the country don't do it and neither should Nebraska.

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6 minutes ago, StPaulHusker said:

Starting a walk on at QB shouldn't happen unless it's in an extreme emergency because if the coach did anything right, there would be enough scholarship QB's developed enough to start.

 

The top programs in the country don't do it and neither should Nebraska.

 

baker-throat-slash.gif?w=1000

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1 minute ago, StPaulHusker said:

Starting a walk on at QB shouldn't happen unless it's in an extreme emergency because if the coach did anything right, there would be enough scholarship QB's developed enough to start.

 

The top programs in the country don't do it and neither should Nebraska.

Which is exactly why Turman started and played about half the game against Kansas State in '94.  All the scholarship QB's behind Frazier and Berringer had left the program (Tony Veland also switched to safety) and Turman was then the 3rd string QB.  People want to act like he "won" the starting job in fall camp and he started a bunch of games for the '94 team.

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Just now, Cdog923 said:

 

baker-throat-slash.gif?w=1000

That was an extreme emergency for TTU.  And Mayfield is the exception.  Not the rule.  Plus, he had D1 offers.

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There's no reason not to start a walk on at QB if they're the best. But coaches should be better at evaluating talent for such an important position.

Edited by Moiraine

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8 minutes ago, BigRedBuster said:

Why?

 

So...if Danny Woodhead would have walked on and became the starter....to you....he still would have been the weakest link on the team.

Ummm....you can have the same opinion out of HS.  But, if the kid excels in Lincoln and beats out the scholarship players, it's obvious the coaches have changed their minds.....many times then giving the kid a scholarship.


So, the coaches can change their minds.  The bigger question is....why can't you?

 

 

As to why, the same statistics that show that stars actually do correlate to success. Five stars pan out at a higher rate than 4 stars, and in general scholarship players are more talented than walk-ons. THERE CAN BE EXCEPTIONS. But the all walk-on team was posted in this thread and it's not as good as our current team IMO.

 

Danny Woodhead was a great player that had a nice NFL career, he wouldn't have been the worst player on the team, but I would still feel like we could have been stronger at running back if he was the starter.

 

  

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17 hours ago, default_28 said:

Danny Woodhead was a great player that had a nice NFL career, he wouldn't have been the worst player on the team, but I would still feel like we could have been stronger at running back if he was the starter.

So....a kid who broke national rushing records at the level he was playing...and went on to have a pretty decent NFL career playing for Super Bowl championships........you would have been disappointed that he was starting at Nebraska if he walked on.

 

:facepalm:

 

I guess I'm done with the conversation.  You are typing words that I can not fathom as being reality.

 

Have a good day.

Edited by BigRedBuster

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18 minutes ago, StPaulHusker said:

That was an extreme emergency for TTU.  And Mayfield is the exception.  Not the rule.  Plus, he had D1 offers.

So did Bunch.

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