Walk-ons make strong impression at Kennesaw State

Brian Bohannon said transfer students Nick Perrotta and Izzy Sam define what it means to be a member of the Kennesaw State football team.

Bohannon said he admires Perrotta and Sam because they made their way onto the team “the hard way.” Perrotta and Sam transferred colleges and walked on to the Kennesaw State football team.

Perrotta, a junior, said after graduating from Peachtree Ridge High in 2012, he attended Georgia Gwinnett College and played on the club baseball team. Perrotta said when he heard the Owls would have tryouts, he transferred in the spring of 2014 and eventually made the cut.

“Luckily they kept me on,” Perrotta said. “From the original first tryout, the only (remaining walk-ons) are me, Izzy Sam and Brett Gillespie. That says a lot for what we’ve gone through.”

Perrotta said he and Sam credit their Gwinnett County high school football programs for their success in earning a spot on the Owls’ inaugural team.

“We come from really good programs where success is something that’s a big part of our lives,” Perrotta said. “In our high school football programs, we were taught to work really hard.”

Sam played football for Georgia State and, like Perrotta, transferred to Kennesaw State to try out for the program in the spring of 2014.

The two walk-ons have become scoring stars in their first two games as Owls, as they share a career highlight: scoring their first touchdown.

Perrotta scored the Owls’ first defensive touchdown off an interception returned for 19 yards against East Tennessee State on Sept. 3. Sam scored the Owls’ first touchdown at Fifth Third Bank Stadium off an 11-yard fumble return Sept. 12.

“It’s probably one of the greatest feelings I’ve had in a long time because I started playing football when I was 6 years old, and I never scored before,” Sam said. “That was my first touchdown in my whole life. It was indescribable.”

The dedication and work ethic the two players share are recognized by coaches. Both Perrotta and Sam earned the same team award for consecutive weeks. For their touchdowns and their dedication on and off the field, both players received the Owls’ unique “Blue Collar Award” for their dedication on and off the field.