NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — What began as a routine team meeting turned into a surreal moment for one Vanderbilt football player.
After praising fullback Marc Panu for his effort in practice the day before, coach James Franklin stunned his fourth-year walk-on by awarding him a full scholarship on Wednesday.
Immediately, the packed auditorium erupted into cheers as Panu’s teammates rose to congratulate him in a moment that was caught on tape and posted on Vanderbilt’s website Friday.
“You’re talking about a guy who just came off knee surgery,” Franklin said to his team before unloading the news. “You’re talking about a guy who keeps his mouth shut and loves being a part of this team. Watch him here (as Panu delivers a block) — finding a way to bring value to the team.
“That’s why I’m so proud to let Marc Panu know that he’s got a full scholarship.”
The announcement shocked Panu, who dropped his head into his hands and slouched back into his chair in disbelief. The 21-year-old then slowly made his way down to the front of the stage, receiving congratulatory pats on the back from teammates before embracing Franklin.
A former All-State linebacker from Georgia, he has played in 19 games the last two years, primarily on special teams. Panu, whose parents are from the Congo and Trinidad and Tobago, is pursuing a degree in chemical engineering.