The NCAA warrants plenty of criticism for how it handles student-athletes, so it's easy to overlook what a life-changing impact a scholarship can provide on the individual level. Luke Turner knows this better than anyone. A talented multi-sport star in high school, Turner broke his leg as a senior, and watched as almost every college football coach turned their attention away from him.
Only one FBS coach stuck with Turner and offered him a scholarship: Rice's David Bailiff. Turner took that scholarship and put it to good use, becoming one of the team's most essential players. Turner took the podium Saturday and gave a powerful speech thanking Bailiff.
"This is my only Division I offer," Turner says. "I broke my leg my senior year of high school and everyone sold me off.
"That man right there stuck with me. And I love him forever for it, he helped me get paid for a great education that I know I'll use very well. And he let me keep playing this game that I love. So I love this university and I love that man back there, and I'll do anything for him."
At the conclusion of his speech, Bailiff and Turner embrace. And Turner, a kinesiology major at Rice, turned out to be a great recruit for Bailiff: The senior running back led the team with eight touchdowns this season, and scored through the rare trifecta of passing, rushing and receiving.
In his career, he's performed almost every offensive role possible -- in addition to rushing, passing and receiving, he's also returned kicks, stepped in as a long-snapper, and received snaps in the team's unique "Wild Owl" formation, which has a similar look to the more common Wildcat formation.
For both sides, things couldn't have worked out any better.