Jesse LoScudo didn't have a "Rudy" moment when he ran onto the field for the first time.

The walk-on defensive tackle, in his fourth year with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football program, didn't earn a spot on the stat sheet in the Mocs' Sept. 25 Southern Conference win at Western Carolina. But his name was on the participation report.

"It was fun, a relief to finally get to play," said the 6-foot-3, 250-pound LoScudo, who was a standout at Bradley Central High School. "It was a blast and I wouldn't trade anything for it."

The Mocs remain thin on the defensive line due to injuries, so LoScudo could get on the field again Saturday when UTC (2-2, 1-1) plays at The Citadel (2-3, 0-2).

LoScudo has had his own injury problems this season. His left shoulder was popping out of its socket "two or three times" every practice in the preseason. Now, thanks to some strength work, he said, "it comes out maybe once a day."

The shoulder, which will require surgery after the season, popped out and went back in, during the Western Carolina game, but LoScudo refused to take himself out after waiting so long for a chance to play.

"I wasn't about to say much [to the trainers] even though it was hurting," he said.

LoScudo couldn't have played last season even if he'd earned a starting job. He was academically ineligible, which he said stemmed from the car wreck he was in during spring practice in 2009.

"It happened right around finals," he said of the accident on Main Street, which totaled his Chevy Suburban. "I had a stage 3 concussion, and I think the only thing I got right on my finals was my name."

Despite being ineligible, LoScudo wanted to help out on the scout team. Mocs coach Russ Huesman initially said no.

"But then I saw how bad he wanted it, so then I said he could come out," Huesman said. "He just ran on the scout team, was a part of it, and this has helped him, too. It's made him grow up, made him take academics serious ... and he's come a long way."

Fullback Courtland Ellzey, a fifth-year senior, came to UTC as a walk-on in 2006. He suffered a knee injury the following year and played in one game in 2008. Last season, Ellzey played on special teams in eight games.

Now in his final season, Ellzey has earned the starting job and some scholarship money. Against the Catamounts, he caught a 4-yard pass in the second quarter.

"It's definitely exciting and I'm glad I stuck with it for this fifth season," Ellzey, a Florida native, said of getting a chance to play regularly. "I wouldn't have changed anything."

Huesman said every program he's ever been around has had such guys.

"They just love the game and hung in there and maybe never earned a dime, and maybe in their third or fourth year they played on special teams," Huesman said.

Both LoScudo and Ellzey said earning a scholarship can't be the reason to walk on. Playing the game and being part of the team has to mean something.

"You definitely have to love playing football," Ellzey said. "If you don't, I wouldn't advise you to walk on to a football team, because you won't last."