#008: The Walk-On Mentality (Part 3 - Spot on the bus)
You know, I’m not going to sit here and say lying is okay or fake it ‘till you make it, BUT I totally did both of those to earn a spot on the field. I mean shit, I got here on a cold email, you have to CREATE your own opportunities sometimes.
And that's what I did.
After the week of fall camp & hearing “the eye in the sky doesn't lie Fossum,” the last 7 days, I needed to find a spot on that field…
Every day they would post the depth-charts on the way to the training room.
I had to skip my 10 min nap time so I could be the first one to get tapped every practice. Walk-ons were not supposed to get tapped. They had ankle braces. But after the first day wearing those shit braces I had huge blisters. So I asked the trainers if I could sneak in early and get tapped before all the scholarship guys.
*PRO TIP - As a college athlete, you must respectfully make friends with the equipment & training staff. They are the key to your success & you are going to need them. Be respectful, say hi to them every morning, help them load & unload stuff, JUST BE A GOOD PERSON. They work their asses off for teams, show respect & they will always have your back *
So every morning for a week I saw my name on 1 depth-chart & I was 4th string. Right Guard on Kick-Off Return. Now KOR / KO is not for everyone. It’s for psychopaths that have absolutely no care in the world for their own health. It’s literally like a fight scene from 300 with bodies just flying everywhere. IT’S FUCKING CRAZY.
So, RG on KOR lasted about 2 mins at practice when Franky Luvu ran me over twice. I was a speed bump on his way to the ball carrier.
Mele pulls me aside and says, “Hey, can you hold Field Goals? You held in High School right?”
“Fuck ya I can,” I replied knowing damn well I never held a kick in my entire life.
*I am a huge movie quote guy & I remember this day so vividly because at that moment the line that popped into my head was from “Fired Up.”
“YOU GOTTA RISK IT TO GET THE BISCUIT.” *
So I walk over to practice holding FG’s. I see the starting Kicker Eric Powell. I put my knee down and he says, “wrong knee, bro.”
I’m thinking, “Jesus Kaleb, figure it out.”
So after shitting my pants in that warm up for 5 mins Mele goes, “Awesome youre holding the game winner after practice.”
We always end the day on a live practice game winning field goal. IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE TEAM & STAFF.
I could barely remember the damn cadence. I put my knee down, (the correct one this time) I call the cadence, the ball get snapped & IT’S ABOUT TO GO OVER MY HEAD, So I pop up, put it down & the kick goes through. I made my first play at fall camp… Bro If you would have told me that was the first week of fall camp & I am the starting holder?! WTF. Gotta love it.
My play made it on the day's “Effort Clips,” that night.
In my head I kept telling myself, the more you make them notice you. The more you show up. The more prepared you are. The more they have to say & hear your name. The more reason they will have no choice but to play you more.
I was the first one in every meeting, even if I wasn’t on that special team, because maybe someone gets hurt & I know what to do. That's a spot.
I started taking PRIDE in the scout team.
I get to go against the 1st team every single day.
- That's going to make me better
- If I go hard, that makes the team better
- If I do well, I pop out in film, have film, & earn more playing time
That’s exactly what happened. I served as the holder on FG’s all season, taking pride in being a specialist. I mean I literally traveled as the starting holder. That shit is so crazy lol.
Don’t get it twisted, holding is NO JOKE. You have to put that ball down no matter what, rain, snow, gloves, no gloves, game winners, It gets intense. I’ve held 4 game winners in my career. I literally love that damn position. You are such a major part of an 11 man operation. You are the one that everyone is trusting. Your kicker is trusting you to be perfect, you have to be. It’s a weird bond that the holder has with the snapper & kicker.
GAME WINNERS. NUTS. Remember this?
I held his ball right there. (lol held his ball)
So, I’ve been the holder all season, while working my ass off as the scout team punt & kick returner.
If you’re great with a little, you’ll be great with a lot.
Friday Morning Special Teams Meeting.
Final meeting before we travel to play @ UCLA tomorrow. (THE MF ROSE BOWL)
I’m sitting down listening to call outs.
“PUNT RETURN STAND UP”
“Where’s Gabe?” Mele asks.
No one says anything.
“Fossum, you’re up.”
JUST LIKE THAT! That’s how life works. Preparation will meet opportunity. I got my first start @ The Rose Bowl against UCLA because the starter was late to the damn meeting! This is when all that preparation, hard work, early mornings, late nights, & being on scout team start to pay off.
STAY READY DON’T GET READY
Nothing happened against UCLA for me. The punter shit the bed and shanked every punt. We won on a walk off TD pass to Gabe Marks, shocker. That man was unreal.
But 2 weeks later I’m back to my normal holding duties and back-up roles.
We were absolutely getting steamrolled by UW (again shocker) & we only got the ball out to the 15 yard line for the 3rd time that day on kickoff return.
So here we are again, CREATE YOUR OWN OPPORTUNITY.
“I’ll score if you put me in the coach.” I said to Mele
He looked me up and down & said “Oh, really?” in like a stfu tone.
“Fuck it, you get the next one then.”
My adrenaline kicks in, my blood is boiling, Holy shit I am going to touch the ball for the first time in college & get to run. This is my shit! The whole reason I am here is because of my return abilities. You got this bro!
Then I start thinking, “what if I drop it.”
Then I hear “KOR on the launch pad, KOR on the launch pad”
HOLY SHIT I AM UP!
As I am running out to get the kick, I hear Coach Leach say, “Who the hell is #38,” & apparently everyone else thought the same thing.
(Read the first line of this article lol)
After he said that, a wave of confidence came over me.
I HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE.
I didn’t score. Actually the kicker tackled me, you hate to see it, BUT I took it about 60 yards & put some life back into our sidelines.
This led to me staring in The Sun Bowl against Miami. I didn’t do much in the return game. I made another great hold like the one I told you about in camp. Literally identical. Here it is.
It was a blizzard. But we won.
What a Freshman year it was! A battle, but The Walk-On Mentality was born.
Oh, we aren’t done yet. It gets better!