Between maintaining a full class schedule and earning a spot on a major-conference college football roster, walk-ons have their work cut out for them before the first whistle of practice. Tom Hruby, a junior attempting to join the Northwestern Wildcats this season, makes that whole process look like nothing.
For starters, Hruby is 32. He has a wife and three kids in Crown Point, Ind., a good 68 miles from Northwestern's campus in Evanston, Ill.
He's also an active Navy SEAL, and the subject of a terrific feature in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Hruby became a SEAL in 2006. He began in California, where he trained as a breacher -- an expert in explosives and forced entry -- and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other countries in the Middle East.
Last year, Hruby took the SAT, and enrolled at NU shortly after. At 6-3 and 230 pounds, Hruby is attempting to secure a roster spot as a defensive end. He'll be living in a dorm, attending 6 a.m. conditioning sessions, and continuing work as a SEAL instructor at Great Lakes Naval Station. The Wildcats have done promotional training campaigns with the Navy SEALs the past few seasons, so why not take the next step and add one to the depth chart?
It's been an interesting month for college football walk-ons. Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen surprised walk-on long snapper Connor Udelhoven with a scholarship during team "bucket hat trivia" last week, and Iowa walk-on Boone Myers was just announced as the team's second-string left guard.