Playing football or whiffle ball in the backyard helps create unique scenarios of stardom at a young age for kids. Every kids' childhood imagination runs wild with game-winning scenarios inside their favorite stadium. Some kids envision themselves becoming doctors, astronauts, or even professional football players when they become older.
For Redshirt junior Nick Villano, he loved the game of football. The South Florida native had hopes of further extending his football career beyond high school and eventually walked-on to the University of Florida.
The life of a walk-on is far from glamorous. You pay to attend the school, don’t eat with the team on a regular basis, and are portrayed as tackling dummies for the scholarship players. But, for Villano and his story, it’s far from the truth.
Following Monday nights practice, the dream of becoming a scholarship football player became a reality. Coach Dan Mullen told Villano and R.J. Raymond to stand up at the end of the practice to discuss their most important role on the team. Quite frankly, it wasn’t fair if they were involved in the most important roles while being a walk-on. That changed when Mullen told everyone these two were now on scholarship.
“I had no clue. It was all a surprise. I had no clue it was coming, and when he told me I got a scholarship, it just kind of hit me. I didn’t really know what to think. I was just kind of paralyzed almost.”
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Not only is this a relief for Villano, but his parents as well. When he arrived back to the locker room, Villano gave his parents a call.
“The first thing I did was FaceTime my parents. They were actually sleeping. I called them up and I told them what happened, and they started crying. That was a big burden taken off their shoulders that they don’t have to pay for school for me anymore. It’s kind of a blessing.”
Now, in his fourth season Villano is one of three players competing for the starting center spot on the offensive line. Overcoming mental and physical exhaustion throughout the years, Villano has considered giving up the game he’s loved.
“Just having hard days, not getting reps. Kind of feeling like, ‘Why do I bang up my body every day? Why do I do this every day when I could go do something else?’,” Villano said during Tuesday's meeting with the media.
Thankfully, the 6-foot-3, 290-pound offensive lineman has displayed relentless effort throughout the process. Come week one, Villano will run out of the tunnel inside The Swamp as an official scholarship player.
NOW ON SCHOLARSHIP:
— Florida Gators Football (@GatorsFB) August 21, 2018