Last week, as football training camp came to a close, Head Coach Paul Chryst was able to award scholarships to four Pitt walk-ons.
Tales about the trials of football walk-ons go back before the often-told
story of "Rudy." It's hard not to have respect for players that join a football
program for nothing more but the love of the game, and the love of a school.
So, when you hear of a hard-working walk-on earning a scholarship, it
is worthy of taking at least a few moments to recognize their dedication and
appreciate what they do for Pitt football.
Last week, Kevin Barthelemy, Mark Giubilato, Chris Wuestner and Matt
Yoklic were each awarded a scholarship by head coach Paul Chryst. Each situation
is different for these four players, but the news was just as exciting in every
"I was hoping for it, obviously," said redshirt sophomore fullback
Giubilato. "It's something that kids without a scholarship work hard for every
day. It's kind of an uphill battle, but at the same time, it makes you really
appreciate football. It is still surreal to me at the moment. It's a long road
but I'm pretty happy."
As someone in the trenches with the team every day, no one was happier
than Coach Chryst to have the ability to offer these scholarships. He spoke of
it the following day.
"I'm fired up," said Chryst. "It's
pretty cool. They all, obviously, in their own way earned it. I think what was
neat about it is the response from the other guys. It was genuine. It was a
pretty good moment last night.
"You love rewarding guys. That's real. Those are real dollars that are
saved and they went and earned it. Any time you go and earn something, there's
great satisfaction. That part is neat."
Most walk-ons have scholarship offers from other schools, but these
four had a deep desire to suit up for the Panthers.
"I really didn't want to go anywhere else other than here," said
Yoklic, a redshirt junior punter. "I could have gone a few other places, but I
knew Pitt was right for me. I'm glad I chose Pitt. It's definitely a good spot
Giubilato had scholarship offers from other FBS programs, but had his
heart set on Pittsburgh.
"I would have had regrets the rest of my life if I hadn't come here,"
he stated. "I wanted to come here since the first time I visited in the 11th
Despite being members of the starting lineup on special teams,
Barthelemy, a long snapper, and Yoklic, Pitt's punter, were surprised by the
"The opportunity to walk on was
pretty cool so earning a scholarship makes it that much better," said
Barthelemy. "It was a surprise. It means a lot to know that the coaches see how
hard we work and to respect that is pretty nice."
Perhaps the most surprising scholarship awarded, however, was to Wuestner,
a freshman walk-on wide receiver from Carlisle, Pa. Since his arrival, those in
attendance at training camp have asked who the kid in the No. 17 jersey was who
appeared to catch everything. After three weeks of camp, he had convinced the
coaching staff that he was the real deal.
"He earned it and you appreciate that," Chryst said. "He fought through
a lot and it's pretty cool."
"It's crazy how a few guys go down and they call your name and you had
to know plays," Wuestner said. "You just go out there and try to work hard,
learn the offense and do what you can. I'm just out there working hard and
trying to get better every day."
Despite earning a scholarship, these former walk-ons are well aware
that they are never able to rest on their previous accomplishments.
"When he (Chryst) told me that I earned a scholarship it really was the
culmination of a lot of things but I realize it isn't the end of the path, it
is the beginning. I have to keep working hard for myself and our team."
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