Tim Lavin walked-on the USC Trojans football team in 1988 and personally experienced the truth behind the secret life of walk-ons. The treatment and NCAA rules governing walk-ons nationwide are usually masked behind the uniform. Through Tim’s personal experience and through interviews with scores of other walk-ons, coaches, medical trainers, equipment mangers, athletic directors, and other front office personnel, Lavin has put together this invaluable resource (book, website, social media) to shed light on the reality life of walk-ons, motivate and inspire all, and educate high school student athletes of today through; Walk-On U.
The term walk-on is used in sports, particularly American college athletics, to describe an athlete who becomes part of a team without being actively recruited beforehand or awarded an athletic scholarship. This results in the differentiation between "walk-on" players and "scholarship" players.
Walk-ons have a particularly developed history in college football. Often these athletes are relegated to the scout team, and may not even be placed on the official depth chart or traveling team. However, there are occasions, sometimes well publicized, where a walk-on will become a noted member of his or her team in one of several ways.
Against the advice of everyone he knew, with only the exception of his family, Tim “Mad Dog” Lavin walked-on the USC Trojans football team in 1988. He was told he would never see the field.
It was expressed in too many ways he would never play, and earning a scholarship was nothing but a pipe dream. Using this to fuel the flames of an already intense, internal burning desire to prove all others wrong and himself right, he endured the drudgery and fought on, daily.
After his second year he had climbed the depth chart ladder and earned a scholarship. By his third season he was starting on every special team. By his fourth season he was regular in the backfield at fullback which was followed by tryouts with the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders - a far cry from "you will never see the field.” Apparently pipe dreams can come true.
His experience as a walk-on both shocked and captivated his college experience, so much so that he wanted to share the realities of the walk-on life, not only through his words, but through the words of fellow players and coaches throughout the country. In October 2013 Lavin published his book, WALK-ON U: The Shocking Truth Behind Football’s Unsung Underdogs.
His research and investigations have shown that several rules and polices still exist today that shamefully exploit the services of walk-ons. What they bring to the table is invaluable. Unfortunately, the reciprocation of ‘thanks’ is all too often ignored.
Lavin is now fully focused on seeking change in policies in the NCAA Manual and within the Division I and Power Five Conferences that adversely affect walk-ons.