A walk-on success

Published 12:44 am Sunday, October 7, 2012

Former Nansemond-Suffolk Academy standout Bobby Lamm has officially become a walk-on member of the Virginia Cavaliers football team.

Lamm was one of only two of the 14 student-athletes who tried out for the team to be chosen as walk-ons.

Bobby Lamm sports a Virginia Cavaliers throwback jersey during his first game suiting up as a walk-on member of the team last Saturday. (Janine DeMello Photo)

“At first it didn’t really settle in, because ever since I was a little kid, I had kind of wanted to go to UVA and play football there,” Lamm said. “But the older I got, it kind of seemed a little bit less realistic only because I thought I was a better fit for a bit of a smaller program. So to actually come here and give it a shot and actually make it work is a big sense of accomplishment.”

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As a senior in high school, Lamm wanted to play college football, but academics were his chief priority.

“So when it came down to my senior year and the recruiting process, I was trying to find the right balance between a good academic school that I could play football at as well,” he said.

He narrowed his search down to the University of Richmond and William & Mary.

“I ended up coming to Virginia, because financially Richmond wasn’t an option any longer and after thinking about it for a while, I just felt academically, and as far as the actual school piece went, that UVA was a better fit than William & Mary,” he said.

He had no football scholarship, so that meant he had to show up for walk-on tryouts if he wanted a chance to play. He and the 13 others essentially participated in a football combine, showing off their speed and skills to the team’s coaches.

“The last stage was about five kids, and out of those five, two of us were invited to come back the next week with the team, kind of like as an extended part of the tryouts,” Lamm said. “And once we practiced with the team for about a week, Coach (Mike) London decided that he was going to add us to the roster.”

Lamm is working out at safety.

He readily credits those coaches who helped to equip him for this moment.

“As far as my defensive back skills, I learned those mainly from our previous coach, Kevin Allen,” he said. “I learned just how to be a better man from Coach Johnston. (He) taught us our senior year how to be confident and respectful, and I think carrying that with me definitely helped me through the process, and it was one that was a bit shaky at times.”

NSA’s football coach Lew Johnston turned in great references for Lamm.

“I was happy to go to bat for him, because he is one of the finest young men I’ve worked with in 39 years of coaching,” Johnston said. “I just felt I needed to go that extra mile to let UVA know what they were getting, to give him an opportunity.”

“(The coach) who ran the tryout period e-mailed me afterwards and said, ‘He’s everything and more that you said he is. Coach London loves Bobby Lamm,’” Johnston said.

“Bobby is a welcome addition to the football family,” Virginia head coach Mike London said. “He is a hard worker and a dedicated teammate. We are glad to have him on the team.”

As a true, walk-on freshman, Lamm knows playing time will not be handed to him.

“Definitely playing time is something that will take some time, and I’ll have to work my way up the ladder,” he said. “But right now, it’s just been a really good experience to be a part of the team and all the guys have been very welcoming. To actually dress and go out in front of all the fans this past week( Sept. 29 against Louisiana Tech) was quite an experience.”