The Difference Between a Walk-On, a Preferred Walk-On and a Full Scholarship

Easily one of the most common issues I deal with since I work with Long Snappers. Unfortunately, some schools still don’t embrace putting a top quality Long Snapper on full scholarship and are locked onto the preferred walk-on option for their specialists. Let me explain the differences to clarify for you….
A flat out, standard walk-on is a student that has been admitted to the school, the coaches have no idea about and he simply wants to try out for the team. Tryouts are usually held in the spring time right before a team’s Spring Ball. They are usually run by a lower tier coach or even a GA (graduate assistant). Tryouts can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to a week and will cover a ton of athletic aspects and then your respective position. It is often like in high school when a coach had too many players tryout and he would just make everyone run for the first couple days simply to weed out who could and couldn’t handle it. If you can handle the nonsense at the beginning, they will give you a shot at your position but you better be absolutely terrific for them to bring you on the team. Why? Bottom line, they will kind of look like an idiot for having this gem sitting right under their noses and they didn’t even know it. Ever see those people on those antique shows that have their great grandpas old boots or something and it turns out they are worth a ton of cash? You scream out “What kind of moron doesn’t know they have something that valuable right in front of them after all these years?” FYI: coaches don’t like to be thought of as a moron.
It is VERY hard to make the team and this fashion. In all my time at UCLA, I don’t recall one ever making it. If you are going for the angle at a school that you have been admitted to for academics I wish you the best of luck as you are going to need it. Going in blind (not contacting the coach at all) leaves you behind a major 8 ball.
This is a very common anecdote for a coach with a Long Snapper, as they know the full rides are few and far between. A Preferred Walk-On is an athlete that IS recruited by the school and is offered a spot on the team. Usually they are told and/or it is known, that the athlete will be placed on full scholarship as soon as he starts. The Preferred Walk-On will, depending on the team, get treated exactly like a full scholarship athlete but they just don’t get things (books, food, dorm, school, etc) paid for. Plain and simple. Couple key points about a Preferred Walk-On are….
·     Finding out when you are reporting. This is a pretty big one. If the school really wants you and respects you, you will be brought in early with all of the scholarship athletes. Usually     early August. D1 schools are only allowed to bring in 105 early. You want to be on that list.
·     Knowing the coach will always try to replace you. I was a preferred walk-on at UCLA and was a solid starter for three years in a row to several All-Americans. Good credentials, right? Yup. I was put on full scholarship and guess what? They still would bring in at least two Long Snappers each year to try and beat me out. Why? Why not? They would also try to have me coach other guys on the team (linebackers and tight ends) how to snap so I didn’t have to take a travel spot and they could just do a double duty. Two for one basically. Given, I am not ignorant and didn’t teach those guys a darn thing about how to snap. “Ok, guys, here is how you will take my job” Nice try.
·     Not all schools are created equal with their Preferred Walk-Ons. UCLA was great when I was there with all of their athletes. I was treated as an equal and embraced. I have heard of some schools making their Preferred Walk-Ons feel like second class citizens by having them share lockers, not giving them a number, or just making things rough for them. Ask other preferred walk-ons at that school to see what the vibe is. They will be deadly honest with you as where others may not.
You are a stud. You have received the rare honor (only 85 per team in D1 athletics and the same in lower divisions but they can be split up in percentages) of obtaining a full scholarship to a university. Some lucky school is going to pay for your education and you will earn a degree on their dime. Huge, huge win. Work hard and make sure you don’t waste their money. They are investing in you and they will want a return on their investment. Bottom line, play like a soldier and do your job as expected. Keep your nose clean and represent your university well. Like they say, you will play for four years but will represent your university for at least the next forty.
To summarize, imagine the school as your parents. If you are a full scholarship athlete, they are flat out handing you the keys to the car. If you are a preferred walk-on, they are holding the keys out in front of you while they keep walking away from you. You can get them but you are going to have to work to get them from their grasp. If you are a walk on, your parents hid the car keys and gave you Ray Charles to help you find them. 


Chris-Rubio-2Rubio Long Snapping is, by far, the biggest and best resource for Long Snappers in the country. Offering the best instruction and most exposure in the world. Rubio Long Snapping can help you to become the best snapper you can be!

In just 12 years, Chris Rubio, President and Owner of Rubio Long Snapping, has become the #1 Long Snapping instructor in the country and the go-to man when a college coach needs a Long Snapper. Colleges from across the country rely on “Rubio’s” word day in and day out on who the best Long Snappers are in the country. Rubio Long Snapping has assisted in over 300 Long Snappers earning FULL SCHOLARSHIPS to major colleges and universities just for Long Snapping and many into the NFL as well.



  1. Donnell Sablan says

    This was great insight! Thank you for sharing all of your experience and updates. I feel with all of the information you provide, players should never go to a school blind-sided (no pun intended!). Thank you again for your leadership and dedication to Long Snapping, character development and the path to college success.

  2. Tim Beattie says

    Rubio- great column with a lot of insight. Regarding preferred walk-ons, if you are recruited by an out of state school, do you get a break on tuition? Can a school grant a prefered walk-on an in state tuition exception, or do you pay the traditional out of state tuition similar to a traditional student?

  3. Paige Miller says

    If you are offered a preferred walk-on spot at a D1 school, but choose to attend a different school for a year, will you still have your spot at the D1 school after a year?

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