Aug. 25, 2014
Hard work. Sacrifice. Unheralded. A few words that come to mind when thinking of walk-ons in college athletics. These guys work their tales off in practice, impersonating other team's personnel and pushing scholarship players to their limits, all the while doing it without anyone really noticing. Media want to talk to the stars. Coaches are out trying to recruit the next one. It's a scene that is played out on playing fields and basketball courts throughout the nation in collegiate athletics.
So, when one of these unheralded guys see time on the floor, people take notice. With limited personnel on his own bench in 2013-14, Coach Stallings called Carter Josephs' number on some very important occasions, and the junior from San Antonio took advantage of those situations to help his team come out on top. Remember the guy who took an elbow from Texas A&M's Jamal Jones with 8.1 seconds to go in an overtime slugfest at Memorial Gym last spring that turned the tide in the Commodores' favor? That was Josephs.
How about the time when Stallings put Josephs in the game at Auburn and he dished out a career-high nine assists, eight more than he had posted in his first two seasons combined? He helped lead Vanderbilt to a road win against the Tigers and started a game at Ole Miss in the regular season finale.
"Our bench by and large was better than our starters," Stallings said after the win over Auburn. "That hasn't happened much but I wasn't going to watch that garbage that I watched the first eight or nine minutes. We were down and I said to hell with that, we're going to put some guys in who are going to play hard."
To those of us in attendance at Auburn, all we could do is smile. Dave Neal and Larry Conley were doing the game on television, and you could hear their smiles through their television call. And through Joe Fisher and Tim Thompson's radio call. It was one of the coolest things we had seen in a long time.
So smile a little when you watch this video - one of the unheralded has been recognized and honored. There's a little good in the world, right?