Based on what you see on espn now-a-days you get the impression that the guys sitting on the end of the bench, normally walk-ons, are on the team to celebrate the actions of their teams. There is never much talk about the real value of what these players can bring to a team or program on a daily basis. When I became a walk-on I thought I was just going to be a guy who played in practice and maybe played a couple minutes at the end of the game.
That was until I met and began to spend time with Brandon Smith and Mat Ishbia. These were two guys that had joined the team as walk-ons and been through the championship years. They are also two guys that have been credited with the growth and development of many star players.
Brandon and Mat showed me how invaluable it was for the scout team (comprised of mostly walk-ons) to make practice extremely difficult and miserable for the starters. Every success team can share stories of the heated exchanges they had with players that weren’t going to get on the court but made it their mission to play as hard as they could for the guys that would.
Most people look at the end of a bench or the guys that are checking in for “garbage time” and can often brush them off as irrelevant, if you are one of those guys you can start to see yourself as irrelevant. Understand that regardless if you’re the star player or the last man on the bench everyone is relevant….if and only if you want to be a champion.