Football team takes advantage of open tryouts
Football season is underway and the campus is alive with tailgating, game tickets and supportive fans. Yet this year seems a bit different with the public announcements for new, walk-on recruits. Most students and players seemed unaware of this yearly calling done by the football program.
“This is the first year we’ve done them. It might be an annual thing; I don’t know,” said senior and captain Daniel Biggerstaff. “The reason we did them this year was because we have so many people hurt and a couple of people quit.”
“I don’t know of us having tryouts before, but I’m only a sophomore,” said Andrew Milot.
“We have always had walk-ons, just like every other sport on campus,” said junior and captain Faris El-Ali. “We just have our walk-on tryouts late. Walk-ons are not invited to camp.”
The confusion surrounding this year’s walk-ons could be attributed to the size of the football team. With over 90 players, it is difficult to accurately relay information to everyone.
This year’s recruiting process also raised strongly adverse opinions among members of the team. While some applauded the new members, others disagreed with them joining so late in the season.
“I think it’s good because we needed the numbers and it’s a lot of talent that could come on the field and do good work for us,” said Milot.
“We only had three walk-ons and all three of them will contribute to the program in some capacity, whether that is on the practice field or on game day,” said El-Ali.
“I personally don’t like it, because they haven’t been here since day one and gone through all of the things the rest of the football team has gone through,” said sophomore Joey Able. “They’re just getting a free chance to be on the football team.”
“It’s really good to know that some students came out and actually tried out for the team,” said Biggerstaff. “It shows that you don’t have to be there from start to finish.”
With all of the mixed opinions and information, the team must look towards the coaching staff for guidance on the issue and a positive outlook on the outcome.
“We’ve had what we call ‘recruited walk-ons’ and that’s the closest we’ve ever gotten to it,” said Head Football Coach Chris Rusiewicz. “This year our whole walk-on approach was to try to get more numbers in our program to help with practice.
“Our numbers were dropping, so we decided that during the bi-week was a good time to open it up to the students to show us what they can do,” said Rusiewicz. “We had about seven guys register. Ultimately, the day of, there were four guys (and) we accepted three of them.”
One of the three members accepted was sophomore lacrosse player Juquan Tellis. As a dual sport athlete now, he is eager to help both teams and appreciates the support he’s getting from both programs.
“It feels good to be back on the field after a year off,” said Tellis. “I’m just happy the team accepted me as a player, (and) now I can hopefully help the team be successful.
“My (lacrosse) coach wasn’t mad for the most part, but like anyone who cares about you, he laid everything out on the table,” said Tellis. “It feels good having the lacrosse team behind me. It makes me work even harder for playing time.”
With injuries high, this year’s football tryouts can hopefully add the spark of talent that the program needs to sustain itself and allow the players to excel. This week has given Guilford fans fresh football faces to look for.