College Football's Diary of a Walk-On: Part Three

The SportmeistersAnalyst IMarch 24, 2009


By Ryan of The Sportmeisters   

This is Part Three of The Sportmeisters chronicling Harris Kaufman's journey as a walk-on at Florida State University. You can find past chapters here.


The first day of Spring has come and gone, which means it is time to prepare for the upcoming college football season. Coaches use this opportunity to help transition from graduating seniors to the new starters, and for FSU walk-on Harris Kaufman, he’s using this opportunity to make a name for himself.

Practice started March 16, and as Harris walked into the locker room for the first time as an FSU football player, he felt anxious and excited, as if this had been his calling for quite some time. Despite trying to stay as calm as possible, confusion and excitement showed on his face and in his actions, as he had to be calmed down once or twice by a passing coach.

Harris noted as he went through and got into the routine that there wasn’t any level of walk-on hazing; instead, the training and coaching staff made sure his focus was strictly on football. He went on to praise the staff for their professionalism and how they pride themselves on keeping everything neat and well-groomed.

As the first practice went on, Harris found himself on the defensive side of the ball, as he was selected for Scout Team linebacker, giving him the opportunity to learn two positions. This allows Harris to have a wider range of assistance to the team. However, it was at linebacker where Harris got his first taste of the college football way of life.

During a particular play, Harris misheard the information, and instead of rushing the quarterback, he instead faded back into coverage. It was this mental breakdown that got Harris his first “dumbass walk-on.” Despite this, he still holds the Scout LB slot, a testament to his quick learning and desire to contribute.

Looking back after the practice, Harris mused about playing with guys he spent the last two years watching in person and on television. He found it quite surreal to be running routes and catching passes from QB Christian Ponder and taking route running tips from TE Caz Piurowski.

After the first practice ended, and the nerves subsided, the team started flowing like a well-oiled machine. Harris found it interesting that the offense and the defense keep themselves separated, acting like two separate teams meeting for battle. He states he has seen quite a few physical fights within the first week already.

Despite the positives, the sanctions from the NCAA, including the current order of vacating victories, had to have taken a toll on the team. However, when pressed, Harris merely stated no comment. It was released that the members of the football program do not have enough information to comment on the subject at this time.

Harris is trying not to focus on what he cannot control, but what he can, which includes learning the plays and his routes. He feels at a great disadvantage coming in without prior experience, and despite being a clean slate, the coaches don’t have time to train new personnel. Instead, it is up to Harris to sharpen the learning curve.

With the Spring game on tap for April 4, and then voluntary practice until August, Harris has his plans set. He knows he has to learn the plays and the routes to the point where thinking is no longer the reaction. He wants to get in, contribute, and get dirty with the rest of the team, and the only way is constant repetition.

It takes players years to develop that second nature of understanding, but for Harris Kaufman, the window is very narrow. The next few months could determine the entire football season. Stay with The Sportmeisters as we continue to follow Harris’s dream in the Diary of a Walk-On.