Two new Arizona State scholarships bring drama, emotion

Arizona State coach Todd Graham played out the drama when awarding scholarships to two walk-on players Friday. Rick Scuteri/AP

This is the joyous time of the year when walk-ons around college football are awarded scholarships, so Jacom Brimhall, a 5-foot-8 walk-on running back, silently hoped that Arizona State coach Todd Graham would call his name today after practice.

The Sun Devils only had one scholarship left to give -- or so the coaching staff had said.

So when Graham announced that the coveted award would go to long snapper Mitchell Fraboni, Brimhall might have had to conceal a gulp of disappointment -- but he quickly joined his teammates in applause.

"I was just being as positive as I could," Brimhall said. "I told myself: 'That's fine. I just need to work hard so I get it next year. This isn't about me; this is about the team.'"

But then Graham pulled a 180.

"Oh, we have one left?" the coach asked an assistant, before letting the ASU team marinate in a lengthy pause.

One could hear a pin drop.

"Brimhall!" Graham broke the silence. "Get on up here, Brimhall!"

The Sun Devils roared. They swarmed Brimhall, and he eventually emerged from the celebratory mob with tears of joy in his eyes. A lifelong goal had been accomplished: He had earned a scholarship to play college football.

"It was so overwhelming because ASU was always the school I had wanted to come to," Brimhall, an Arizona native nicknamed the "Muscle Hamster" by his teammates, said. "And I have sisters, but I have no brothers in my family. So [having my teammates mob me] is something I'll never forget. A lot of tears started flowing."

As it turns out, the Sun Devils did indeed have only one remaining scholarship to give out this year, but Graham took an unusual action by awarding two. This move takes a direct bite out of how many players ASU can sign in its next recruiting class, and that's an unexpected bullet coaches aren't often willing to bite.

Graham, though, was more than ready to pull the trigger, and he used the opportunity to manufacture added drama.

"Because he didn't call my name at first, it created twice the excitement," Brimhall said. "I could feel everyone's eyes on me when I didn't get the scholarship (on the first announcement). It was real."