In an emotional video racing across the internet right now, a University of Texas Longhorn football player, in his senior year as a walk-on athlete, got the surprise of his life.
Garrett Graf, number 54, a 6'2", 285-pound lineman has been battling it out in the trenches his entire career at UT without a scholarship. That changed this week when a magician, performing at a meeting to motivate the team, brought Graf to the front row and then pulled that scholarship, literally, out of his magician's hat.
"I like this," magician Robby Bennett said to the red-headed college senior, "Genetically, you are the school colors, this is great," he said as the team laughed.
The team erupted in a roar of laughter and cheers with what the magician said next.
"I am pleased to inform you that you have earned a full ride scholarship," he said as the entire team mobbed Graf, who through his tears, thanked his teammates and coaches.
"This has been a childhood dream of mine just to be here," he told them. "I won't let you guys down."
"To see him get emotional and to see his teammates mob him like that, there's no way you don't get a little choked up," said his high school coach Brent Whitson from South Grand Prairie.
He says no one worked harder than Graf, no one is more deserving and no one more humble. He wasn't surprised when Graf had to immediately call his parents with the news.
"Hello....hey, I just wanted to tell you I'm on scholarship," he said in the video recorded at UT.
His mom and dad, on the other end of the line, weren't exactly sure what was happening.
"He's crying, and he's emotional and I'm scared to death," his dad Bruce Graf told WFAA. "I think something horrible has just happened."
But now, his dad says he couldn't be more proud, that the scholarship is the result of his son's dedication and hard work. A proud dad is also happy about something else he saw in that video of the team celebration.
"The only color you saw in that team and that locker room was burnt orange." Bruce Graf said. "There wasn't a color anywhere. There wasn't no black, white, brown, green anything. Those guys love each other and you can tell it! That's what this is about. It's not about the money. It's about 'you are one of us.'"
"Just a guy when you say model teammate, you look that up, you find Garrett Graf's picture," said UT head football coach Tom Herman.
Garrett Graf hopes to be a college coach someday. His high school coach says he serves as a lesson to every high school player with a dream.
"Don't tell me you can't play college football because nobody hands you a dollar bill when you get out of school," Whitson says he tells his high school athletes. "You know there's always that dream to chase. And Garrett is the ultimate fulfillment of that."
Fulfillment for a young man his dad says was born bleeding burnt orange. Now, he just has written proof.
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