BOISE — What appeared to be a normal pre-practice team meeting turned into a moment Jake Hardee will never forget.
The walk-on Boise State tight end found out in front of his teammates that his hard work had paid off. He was being awarded a scholarship.
“A life-long dream,” Hardee said Saturday. “Something I’ve worked hard for the last three, four years. I grayshirted, redshirted — just something that is a great accomplishment. I’m very blessed.”
Hardee appeared in all 13 games last season and had five catches for 73 yards.
The redshirt junior was one of three players called to the front of the room to answer a trivia question in front of his teammates. Hardee, the last to go, was asked by coach Bryan Harsin what the NCAA allows football programs to give out 85 of.
Hardee replied with the correct answer, scholarships, before a message appeared on the screen that said, “Congratulations Jake Hardee!!!”
His teammates erupted into applause and started chanting, “Hardee! Hardee!” as he stood smiling in the front of the room.
“To be surprised like that was pretty awesome,” Hardee said. “Just a dream come true. To have the respect of my teammates and having them rooting for me and everything, it means a lot — even more than the scholarship.
“It’s a great accomplishment, but it doesn’t change anything. I want to always go out there and play with an edge like coach Harsin says and play with a chip on my shoulder. I’m going to go out there and play like I’m a walk-on like the beginning.”
The moment was recorded by Boise State cameras and posted to various social media outlets for fans to see.
Hardee didn’t have time to call his parents until after practice. They had already seen the video online but were, “all crying on the phone,” Hardee said.
“He’s been my boy from Day 1 when I came in. He was the first friend I made, and I can’t tell you how happy I was,” said defensive end Beau Martin, who, like Hardee, arrived as a walk-on at Boise State before eventually being awarded a scholarship. “I jumped up and sprinted over there and was cheering. That guy deserves it. He’s an accountable guy. He’s everything the Bronco program wants.”