Three NC State walk-ons receive scholarships for 2016 season

Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren surprised the three players on Sunday night before school starts Wednesday.

RALEIGH — Josh Taylor, Clark Eyers and Ford Howell will all enter their fourth or fifth years at NC State on Wednesday. After an announcement on Sunday night, all three will do so on scholarship for the first time since joining the Wolfpack football team on scholarships.During a team meeting on Sunday evening, head coach Dave Doeren picked on a few players and coaches — strength and conditioning coach Dantonio Burnette as the Miller High Life guy was perfection — before bringing the trio up to the front.What happened next change all three players’ lives for the better.”It’s a true honor to be able to give them something like that, especially two seniors,” Doeren said after Monday’s practice. “Clark Eyers and Josh Taylor have been here a while. They’ve earned it. They’ve both had different journeys to get here. … Ford Howell is a junior college transfer who has played on every special teams since he got here. So I was happy to do that for them.”Taylor, Eyers and Howell have rarely seen the field, but suiting up on a daily basis solely for the betterment of the team is certainly worthy of a year worth of school for free. For Taylor, who has backed up quarterbacks since the start of the Doeren era in 2013, a scholarship is about more than himself.”This really means a lot for me and my family,” Taylor said. “Every walk-on comes in with the mindset of earning a scholarship at some point. I really wanted to do it more for my parents so they know my school is paid for for the final year. That’s just an awesome feeling.”While elite high school athletes come in with the expectation of having their college provided, walk-ons do the dirty work. Howell transferred from Wake Forest to Iowa Western Community College before ultimately landing in Raleigh. Eyers followed a similar route, committing to Western Carolina before transferring to State.Meanwhile, Taylor has attended NC State all four years and is currently a chapter leader for Uplifting Athletes. The three players might not have made a huge difference on the field, their impact on the team has been significant.”I was so excited for those guys,” quarterback Jalan McClendon said. “You never understand how tough it can be until you put yourself in that situation. … It’s really cool for [Josh Taylor] because he’s been one of the guys in our group every day. “Being here all four years, it’s hard to measure how much he’s meant to this team.”