KNOXVILLE — In a time when walk-ons being put on scholarship make social media rounds, Andrew Craig's announcement was much more subdued.
It's actually confusing as to how many people knew.
What's known is that Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt texted the 6-foot-4, 244-pound Craig to come to his office after a winter workout in February. When he got there, Pruitt told the junior tight end that "there was a scholarship available," Craig recalled, and that he was receiving it.
He said nobody really knew about it and found out by word of mouth, almost as though he was embarrassed even to talk about it. But quarterback Jarrett Guarantano said Pruitt told the whole team in a meeting.
"Everybody was excited," Guarantano said. "We see that Andrew is a great worker that did a lot for this team, so we were excited for him. When we got the news, everybody was hollering and jumping around him, so it was a great thing for us and the program.
"Coach Pruitt told everybody out of nowhere and we were just like, 'Whoa, that just happened.' It's great for him and definitely great for his family — they're big Tennessee people, and we're happy he's now on scholarship and one of us now."
Craig played at nearby Webb School of Knoxville and ultimately chose a walk-on offer from former coach Butch Jones at Tennessee over offers from Football Championship Subdivision programs Austin Peay, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Western Illinois. He took everything that went with that — relative obscurity, scout-team work and preparing other players for games.
But after the two-time all-state defensive lineman who helped lead Webb to Division II-A state championships in 2013 and 2014 didn't get in any games as a freshman, he played in 11 games in 2018 as a reserve tight end and goal-line fullback.
He did it with no complaints.
"I know that I really got to go through the whole process and earn it for myself," Craig said. "I was able to prove to the naysayers wondering, 'Why is this guy going to walk on here when he could go on to FCS schools?'
"It's kind of 'in your face. I did this and I got to accomplish this.' That was the best part for me."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.