College Sports

Brindise follows brother's footsteps in walk-on role

COLUMBIA -- In route from southwest Florida to Columbia this week, Zac Brindise made a pit stop at his brother's house in Gainesville, Fla., to fill up on football advice.

Brindise would have a difficult time finding anyone more qualified than his big brother to dispense suggestions on what to expect as a walk-on quarterback under Steve Spurrier. More than a dozen years ago, Noah Brindise was in the same position when he joined Spurrier's Florida team without a scholarship.

"It can be somewhat degrading at times to be treated differently. I made (Zac) aware of that," Noah Brindise said. "He knows what he's in for and what he needs to do to succeed. But he's at the right place because the guy who's the head coach there will give him a chance."

Zac Brindise elected to walk on at South Carolina rather than accept a scholarship from one of the Division I-AA programs that recruited him. He arrived in Columbia this week for freshman orientation with a leg up on his brother, who was unknown to Spurrier's staff when he transferred to Florida from Division II Wingate in the spring of 1994.

"I just kind of showed up one day. He's got a little bit of help," Noah Brindise said. "That's good and it's bad. I think he's going to be held to a high standard."

The younger Brindise believes he would have received more scholarship offers had he not broken his wrist three games into his junior season at South Fort Myers (Fla.) High.

"I pretty much had nothing to show for my junior year," he said. "So that hurt me a lot."

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Brindise threw for more than 1,500 yards as a senior. He earned the MVP honor at a regional all-star game in December by completing 10-of-19 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

But the only schools to offer scholarships were programs such as Charleston Southern and Jacksonville. When Gamecocks receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. called on signing day with an offer to come to USC as an invited walk-on, Brindise chose to follow his brother's path.

Brindise said his familiarity with Spurrier and his staff made the decision easy. As a grade-school student, Brindise was in the stands cheering his brother during two of the Gators' biggest victories under Spurrier: a 52-20 victory against Florida State in the Sugar Bowl for the 1996 national championship and a 32-29 defeat of the Seminoles at The Swamp the following season.

After sitting behind Danny Wuerffel for two seasons, Noah Brindise was part of a quarterback platoon in 1997. The Gators finished 10-2 and beat Penn State in the Citrus Bowl that season.

He was a graduate assistant on Spurrier's staff in Gainesville before following him to the NFL as the assistant quarterbacks coach with Washington.

Zac Brindise met several of the Gamecocks' coaches when they worked with his brother with the Redskins. But he expects no special treatment when preseason camp begins next month.

"(Noah) told me as a walk-on it'd be hard," he said. "You're going to have to come in there and really have to prove yourself. As a walk-on, you're at the bottom."

Before he was placed on scholarship at Florida, Noah Brindise recalled paying for dinners at the dining hall while the Gators' scholarship players ate separately at the training table. But walk-ons were expected to show up for all the team activities, including the 6 a.m. running sessions.

"The bottom line is you're not getting anything and you're having to do everything everybody else does," Noah Brindise said. "You're kind of under the radar. It's hard."