In case you missed the news yesterday, senior walk-on defensive tackle Brandon Wheeling has been awarded a scholarship. Wheeling transferred from West Georgia prior to the 2008 season and has drawn rave reviews from coaches and players ever since.
Not mentioned in the official release linked above is the fact that Wheeling's father, like so many in these difficult times, recently lost his job. So the scholarship comes at a particularly good time for this young man's family, and the backstory makes me want to pull for him that much more. I'm a sucker for an underdog and I refuse to apoligize for that.
Also not mentioned? Walk-ons who are awarded scholarships have often been clutch contributors under Mark Richt. Examples include Verron Haynes, Billy Bennett, Tra Battle, Brandon Coutu, and J.T. Wall. In this era of scholarship limits, NFL early entries and freak weightlifting injuries, a strong walk-on program can be a huge asset for building depth and finding potential starters. The walk-on program at Georgia, coordinated by Coach Joe Tereshinski, Jr., has done just that in recent years. While we here at Dawgsports certainly pay an ordinate amount of attention to recruiting, Wheeling's emergence should serve as notice that not all players take the same route onto the Sanford Stadium grass. Congratulations, Brandon. We'll be watching. All 92,746 of us.
Until later . . .