In 2012, quarterback Matt McGloin became the all-time leader in career passing touchdowns, with 45, at Penn State University(1). McGloin started his college career as a walk-on(2).

In collegiate history, noteably at a Division I FBS level, has there been a walk-on QB or player that became the all-time leader in a major statistical category (TDs, yards, sacks, interceptions, etc.) at his university?

NOTE: Clay Matthews, now a linebacker with the Green Bay Packers, was a walk-on at the University of Southern California.

  • 1
    I dont know about leading statistical categorys but I know Jordy Nelson was a walkon at k-state and Aaron Rodgers started at a junior college because of lack of scholarship offers. Michael Strahan, Terrell Owens, and Tony Romo all atleast started out outside the division 1 ranks because of no scholarship offers
    – Maniac
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 13:27
  • 1
    @Maniac ahh, very interesting. Cam Newton even honed his skills at a junior college before playing at Auburn (backed Tim Tebow up in Florida before his jr. college days).
    – user527
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 14:26
  • oh yes that is another one that I forgot about! That is interesting, On the pro side there are people like James Harrison who went undrafted but developed into a great linebacker or Tom Brady as a 6th round draft choice... the list goes on :)
    – Maniac
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 20:37
  • 2
    Cam Newton reportedly went to a Jr. College not to hone his skills but because he was involved in a cheating scandal. Just sayin.'
    – Devin
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 22:41
  • Newton and Rodgers are NOT walk-ons. Newton got in trouble so went to Juco. He was the most heavily recruited athlete at Auburn - so the exact opposite of a walk-on. Rodgers also went to Juco because he didn't like the schools that gave him offers. A walk-on should be someone that didn't get a D-1 offer not someone who turned down others because he wanted to go to a school that was out of athletic scholarships. Also players with good grades often get great academic scholarships at big schools allowing schools to use team scholarships on the dumber kids.
    – Coach-D
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


There are a number of football players who have excelled at their respective universities after beginning their careers as walk-ons. Such players include Colt Brennan, who after being thrown out of the University of Colorado joined Hawaii as a walk-on. By the time of his graduation he had thrown for 131 TDs and in excess of 14000 yards.

Another great walk-on was JJ Watt at Wisconsin. Though I am unsure if he owns any school records he certainly has proved himself at the NFL level.

CBS sports has covered this issue for the BCS era http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/eye-on-college-football/21669854

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.