It is a momentous occasion for any walk-on player who has been given a full scholarship in recognition of hard work and a great attitude. But when you get to tackle your coach and have the scholarship presented to you by an Oscar nominee, it’s probably just a tad bit sweeter.
Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck emerged from the tunnel for the morning session of a two-a-day practice wearing a full uniform and pads. After gathering the team, the 35-year-old former wide receiver told his players that the evening practice session would be canceled if a player can stop him at the goal line. The only catch: Fleck gets to choose which player he goes head to head against.The coach picked Kasey Carson, an undersized 5-foot-11, 208-pound walk-on linebacker who still got to play in eight games last season, picking up eight tackles. Carson predictably stopped his coach from going anywhere, getting the evening practice cleared away, but that wasn’t all Fleck had in store.
“This guy, look at how big he is,” Fleck said as he pulled Carson in. “He ain’t that big. But he exemplifies everything Western Michigan football’s all about.”
He then directed the players to the scoreboard, where a video message from billionaire and Western Michigan alumnus Alec Gores, along with Rocky himself Sylvester Stallone, awaited.
“The fact that you’re a walk-on and you accomplished this is extraordinary,” Stallone said. “Being a fighter is taking the blows, getting up, taking it to your opponent … finding that reserve in there that makes you one step better than you thought you can be.”
Stallone then made the big announcement, which prompted Carson's teammates to mob him and lift him up on their shoulders.
Check out the video made for the day below, a great reminder of how nice it is to see good things happen to deserving people.
This was not the first time Fleck has pulled this sort of stunt either, with him awarding scholarships to walk-ons Grant DePalma and Trevor Sweeney in dramatic fashion at different points last year.