September 2, 2007

Walk-ons move forward

STORRS, Conn. - With nerves at an all-time high and anxiety kicking in and clouding his brain, linebacker Aaron Bryant was beside himself when he was waiting on the sidelines on Oct. 7, 2006.

After all, Bryant, a linebacker, had found out earlier in the week that he would be seeing some time on kick coverage in that week's contest against South Florida in Tampa, Fla. As a result, not only would he travel with the team, but he'd get the chance to contribute after months of waiting on the sidelines and imagining what it would be like to step on the field for the first time.

As a 6-foot-3, 219-pound linebacker, Bryant, a redshirt sophomore, is one of 17 walk-ons currently on the UConn football roster, which makes his ascension to the top of the depth charts all the more impressive. Unlike in sports such as basketball, where walk-ons rarely ever play, or in hockey, where very few, if any, players have a scholarship, football walk-ons can come in a variety of roles from a variety of different backgrounds.

Take Bryant, who played quarterback and safety at New London High and had plenty of Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) offers as a result of his success. He was drawing interest from local programs such as Albany, Bucknell, Lehigh and Rhode Island, among others, but wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his football career after he graduated.

"I wanted a chance to play Division I-A football," Bryant said. "It's a big difference."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!