SAN JOSE -- Chandler Jones was awarded a scholarship after his redshirt freshman season, but the San Jose State senior wide receiver still feels he's part of a "brotherhood of walk-ons."
The brotherhood has a new poster boy after redshirt freshman running back Jarrod Lawson racked up 202 yards of offense and two touchdowns in last week's victory at Colorado State.
"It was really crazy," Lawson said. "I had a lot of support from all my friends and family. It was great. I lived it up. I know that's just one week and I have to move on to next week."
Lawson also had 89 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago against Hawaii.
"I told my family that I'm living a dream right now," Lawson said. "It's hard to picture, a couple weeks ago, that I'd be in this position. But I wasn't surprised because I do work hard and I know my abilities. I'm just glad the coaches were able to see that and gave me the opportunity."
Lawson walked on at SJSU in 2012 from Valley Christian High-San Jose, where he rushed for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior. He redshirted last year and caught the coaches' eyes with hard, aggressive running.
Spartans coach Ron Caragher is a big proponent of the walk-on program, saying, "I think there's an element there that those guys are hungry."
The obvious question is why doesn't SJSU gives its budding star a scholarship? It can't, yet. The Spartans are at the NCAA limit of 85 scholarship players, but it's a good bet Lawson will be rewarded next season.
"We are full right now," Caragher said. "But I do believe in rewarding guys for what they've done, and that will be addressed down the road."
Being a walk-on creates challenges, including the obvious financial burden. Lawson lives at home with his mom, which he says is "nice because I think family's everything. I wouldn't like moving away."
Lawson, and any non-scholarship players, can't eat lunch at the team facility after practice per NCAA rules. Jones remembers when he'd rush to take a shower after practice so he could race to the campus dining commons.
"It's unfortunate because the whole team is competing, trying to get to that ultimate goal, either making their weight or being that championship team," Jones said. "It's tough if you're a walk-on being restricted from that. But it's part of the rules, so you've got to stick with it."
Lawson mostly ignores the extra burdens and views himself as simply a football player.
"I love the game, no matter if I have to pay or not," Lawson said. "That's the most important part of all of this. Not the fact that I'm a walk-on, but the fact that I'm playing football and I'm blessed to play football every day."
Lawson is motivated by fellow redshirt freshman running back Tim Crawley, a Bellarmine College Prep product who was awarded a scholarship just before the start of this season.
"Me and him are really good friends, and just seeing him improve and get a scholarship as a walk-on gives me hope to know that hard work pays off, because he's a really hard worker," Lawson said.
Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.
Wyoming (4-2, 2-0 Mountain West) at San Jose State (3-3, 2-1), 4 p.m.