Our WalkOn Spotlight this month is Yawn Rico. Please take some time and read his heartfelt story.
Dear WalkOn Nation,
First off, I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to be featured for this month’s Walk On Nation spotlight. My name is Yawn Coleman Jr., I am a young man from Orlando, Florida that grew up playing sports all my life. I attended Wekiva High School and graduated from there in 2014.
I had one FCS verbal scholarship offer going into my senior year but that offer was no longer available once signing day came around. During my senior year I had small schools show interest on the D2 level but I was stubborn and only wanted to go D1.
National Signing Day came and went and I was still waiting around. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would even play college ball at the time. During the summer of 2014 I reached out to a school that showed interest in me during the recruiting process of my senior year to see if they would still be interested in me being apart of their program.
Unfortunately, being the hard headed individual that I am I missed my opportunity of receiving an athletic scholarship so now I was left with the option to walk on and having to prove my worth and value to earn my scholarship now.
Going into my freshman year at Florida Tech in the Fall of 2014 I was just grateful to be in school and being able to continue to play ball especially on the collegiate level. I was redshirted my first year there but was blessed to receive some financial grants that contributed to help paying for college fees.
The first three years of me attending Florida Tech I was not on a full athletic scholarship meaning my family helped pay for me to attend college and I had to take out student loans for financial support.
Going to my senior year in the classroom and my redshirt junior year on the field I was blessed to earn a full athletic scholarship and I did not have to take out any loans for the first time. I was overwhelmed with joy and finally felt like all my hard work got recognized and now I was getting the reward for it.
I graduated from Florida Tech in the Fall of 2017 and had to make a business decision of staying at Florida Tech for my last year of eligibility or transfer as a grad student. After continuous prayers and talks with my family I decided to transfer as a graduate student to pursue my dreams of playing on the D1 level because I always felt like that is where I belonged and had the skill set to compete amongst the best. Also, I knew if I had the film showing I can compete on the D1 level that would help me get closer to my dreams of playing in the NFL.
In 2018 I found myself in a similar situation that I was in during my senior year of high school which was the recruiting process. I told myself I would not make the same mistakes and be open to any school even though D1 was my goal I showed any school that showed me interest the same level of respect regardless if they were D1, D2, or D3. I was blessed to get offers from a few FCS schools and for the first time I took official visits and got the real experience of the recruiting process.
During the summer of 2018 I made my commitment to finish my collegiate career at University of Tennessee at Martin but once I got to the school in preparation for fall camp I received some unfortunate news. Due to the state of Tennessee’s GPA weighted system compared to Florida’s GPA weighted system my GPA dropped a few points so I did not meet the requirements for their graduate programs.
I can’t lie I was crushed because I literally received this news two weeks before the season was scheduled to begin now I had to head back home to Orlando which made me feel embarrassed and like a failure.
By the grace of God I received a phone call from a D2 school in Pennsylvania the same week I came back home and they offered me a scholarship right on the spot. I ended up finishing up my college career at Indiana University of Pennsylvania so I am beyond grateful for.
Throughout all the ups and downs of my college career I would not change not one single thing. I’ve learned countless life lessons but more importantly I have learned some much about myself that I am proud of. I recently went through the 2019 NFL Draft to pursue my dreams of playing professional football which I came up short unfortunately I did not get a camp invite. I am still optimistic about my football career and open to the right opportunity God has for me. Currently, I am working on building my brand and business, “Shot By Eye 4”, which is a media team that specializes in photography and videography.
To my beloved family and support system I cannot thank you enough and I am nothing without my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To the Walk On Nation family thank you again for the opportunity and to those individuals pursuing their goals and aspirations in life never stop, keep going, the marathon continues so keep dream chasing!