When a walk-on player earns a scholarship it is one of the most celebrated moments within a college football team.
It was no different when Colorado State redshirt junior walk-on Jakob Buys, in his fourth year at the school, finally received a full-scholarship as a student athlete at CSU.
Monday night, during a team event, Buys was surprised with the scholarship, something he has been working for four years to earn.
The scholarship was announced during a “neighboring” team event. Players are called up to the front of the meeting room with their lockeroom neighbors and must recite information about one another. Buys was up there with fellow defensive lineman Adrian Robinson when the announcement was made. The announcement came by surprise, and it was an exciting moment for everyone involved.
“They were very excited,” coach Mike Bobo said. “The guys just came up, everybody got out of their seats and gave him a hug.”
“I mean as soon as they announced it everyone kind of almost rushed up to the front. Everyone was on their feet cheering for him,” quarterback Nick Stevens said.
Stevens and Buys came to the team at the same time, and they even lived together in their time at CSU.
“I was so excited for him last night, it was awesome,” Stevens said. “I know he is thrilled. I know that his parents tell him all the time (to) come out, work hard and try and earn that scholarship. He really deserves it. He’s one the hardest workers on the team. I was definitely thrilled to see that happen.”
Buys, a 6-4 265 pound defensive lineman from Arvada, Colorado, first made an impact on special teams in his redshirt freshman season. Most Rams fans most likely became familiar with the player when he blocked a punt against Nevada in a hard fought 31-24 win during the Jim McElwain era.
Since then, Buys has filled a bigger role for the team. He figured into the defensive line rotation last season and recorded seven tackles in ten games. Now, with the Ram’s defensive line hitting the reset mode, Buys is poised to play an even more prominent role this season.
Buys has been working with the number one defensive line in practice, playing at both defensive end spots. Coach Bobo has pointed out the player multiple times from spring camp into fall camp for his effort and play on the field, as well as his position as a leader on the defense.
For coach Bobo, now was the time to present that scholarship. The coach said that you do not want to take advantage of anybody who is a big contributor to your football team. You have to reward that guys that deserve it, and Buys certainly did his part to earn it.
“It’s something that he earned, it’s not something that we give away or take lightly,” Bobo said. “Jakob is a guy that’s been on our radar. We have actually been saving one for him and he is running lot with the first team right now. He is a guy who gives tremendous effort, he is all in in everything that we do.”
The coach said that Buys spent his summer working out at six-thirty in the morning and going to work in the afternoon to help pay for school. Walk-ons like Buys have to go an extra step to be a part of something like this. It takes a special kind of kid, and Bobo knows that.
“Guys know what guys like Jakob go through to be a part of the team and be a part of this family,” Bobo said. “It’s an extra sacrifice that they have to make and they don’t take for granted about being on this football team. Jakob is one of those guys that doesn’t take any day for granted. He comes to work.”
Senior Quarterback Faton Bauta mirrored Bobo’s statement. Bauta is a guy who has been on scholarship his entire collegiate career. He said that as a scholarship player, it is all about being grateful for everything you receive. He said that even though some people might disagree with him, he believes that as a scholarship player, “you get everything handed to you.”
Not so with the walk-ons.
“My heart always kinda gives a little every time those guys are granted a scholarship,” Bauta said. “Just because it’s special, because those are guys are working twice as hard than a scholarship guy.”
For Bobo, Buys is the model of what a CSU football player should be. He called him one of his best recruiting hosts, and praised him for his effort, attitude and commitment to the football team. The coach knows how hard it is to juggle everything in life as a student-athlete who is trying to pay their own way through college.
And now there is some relief for Buys. His work paid off.
“There’s nothing better than earning something like that because nobody can take that away from you,” Bauta said. “Once you earn something like that, nobody can take that away from you.”
Buys might have earned a division-one scholarship and he may no longer be considered a walk-on, but don’t expect his attitude to change much. That’s just the type of kid he is.
Collegian Sports Reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5