Vandy gives Marc Panu full ride

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- What began as a routine team meeting turned into a surreal moment for one Vanderbilt football player.

After praising fullback Marc Panu for his effort in practice the day before, coach James Franklin stunned his fourth-year walk-on by awarding him a full scholarship on Wednesday.

Immediately, the packed auditorium erupted into cheers as Panu's teammates rose to congratulate him in a moment that was caught on tape and posted on Vanderbilt's website on Friday.

"You're talking about a guy who just came off knee surgery," Franklin said to his team before unloading the news. "You're talking about a guy who keeps his mouth shut and loves being a part of this team. Watch him here (as Panu delivers a block) -- finding a way to bring value to the team.

"That's why I'm so proud to let Marc Panu know that he's got a full scholarship."

The announcement shocked Panu, who dropped his head into his hands and slouched back into his chair in disbelief. The 21-year-old then slowly made his way down to the front of the stage, receiving congratulatory pats on the back from teammates before embracing Franklin.

A former All-State linebacker from Georgia, he has played in 19 games the past two years, primarily on special teams. Panu, whose parents are from Congo and Trinidad and Tobago, is pursuing a degree in chemical engineering.