They expect hard work out of everyone. They didn’t expect anything different from me. I expect hard work from myself.
University of Miami
2008: Walk-on Redshirt
2009 & 2010: Scout Team
2011: Started in Orange vs. Green Spring Game
Leading tackler with 14
Sean attended high school at Chestnut Hill Academy; a small private school outside Philadelphia. His senior year he led the Academy in tackles, was first team all-conference, Chestnut Hill 3D defensive player of the year, and was an all-star district first team selection by the Philadelphia Star. Sean grew-up with the legacy of the Hurricane’s because both his parents attended Miami. When Sean graduated he knew he wanted to play college ball. Most of the schools interested in him were division III. Being a Hurricane has been a life-long dream for Sean. When he got the offer to walk-on, he went for it.
WillofaChampion: What has been one of your greatest challenges as a Walk-on?
Sean: We are a family here. I know a lot of walk-ons the challenge is getting to know people. That is definitely not the case here. I think the greatest challenge is the transition everyone has to make from high school to college football. There is so much more speed; especially here in Florida. But it has been a good transition.
WillofaChampion: How did you earn a starting position in the spring game?
Sean: I have been working hard all spring. Trying to learn the new play book with the new coaching staff (Al Golden is in his first year as the head coach of the Hurricanes). The week prior to the game they told me I would get to play. Then within a day or two of the game they told me I would get to start. I didn’t ask any questions. I was excited and knew my mom would be in town to watch so I just got ready to play.
WillofaChampion: What did you do that caught the coaches’ attention and made them decide to start you? Did you put in more time running or lifting weights compared to your teammates?
Sean: Everybody is working hard. I wouldn’t say I put in more time running or lifting. I did dedicate more personal time studying the play book because I knew I needed to step up in that area.
WillofaChampion: Do you have to be more mentally tough as a walk-on compared to a scholarship player?
Sean: I think everybody has to be mentally tough. I knew coming in here that no one really knew me and I had to find a way to make a name for myself. This coaching staff, and the one before it, is great about giving everyone an opportunity. They truly give the walk-ons a shot. I understood what I was getting myself into trying to play division one football – not only division one but for the Hurricanes – I knew it would be tough.
WillofaChampion: How did your teammates receive you?
Sean: No one really knew I was coming. I showed up a couple of days before camp started. Once camp started they treated me like they treated every other freshman. Joking and playing around, giving me nicknames, within a couple of days I felt like part of the family. I didn’t feel like the kid from Philadelphia anymore.
WillofaChampion: How did your coaches receive you?
Sean: They received me like they receive everyone else. They expect hard work out of everyone. They didn’t expect anything different from me. I expect hard work from myself. I’ve expected that since I started playing this game in third grade.
WillofaChampion: Why have you been able to make it as a walk-on when others don’t?
Sean: I guess the right circumstances and situation. I know there are walk-ons across the county that are doing well. A walk-on needs to find the right situation with a coaching staff that will give him a chance and treats him like everyone else.
WillofaChampion: Do you have a good support system that helps you persevere through the challenging days?
Sean: Yes, absolutely. My teammates, roommates, and parents; I talk to my parents just about every day. We’re so much like a family that people can tell if you’re having an off day. Or if something just isn’t going right for you. Everyone is willing to try and pick you up.
WillofaChampion: What impact has following and earning your dream had on the rest of your life?
Sean: It has been great. It has been a wonderful experience and I can’t wait for the season to keep going. There have been so many experiences I’ve picked up through football – some I already knew like working hard and nothing comes easy. But college has taught me to apply those academically as well. You have to step-up your game both athletically and academically.
WillofaChampion: Other athletes reading this article may be considering walking-on, what advice do you have for them?
Sean: Be prepared to work hard. At the University of Miami everyone has to work hard. Be ready to work hard both academically and athletically. Go in knowing you will have up and down days. Also know that one day won’t make or break you. Be prepared to learn from your mistakes and not make them twice in a row.
WillofaChampion: I’ve heard that as a walk-on you have to take advantage of your opportunities because typically you don’t get many and sometimes you don’t get a second chance.
Sean: That is absolutely true too. Take advantage of your opportunities.