The official end of training camp is a joyous occasion for every football player, but Pitt redshirt senior Alex Karabin, Saturday's camp finale was even better.
"Alex was awarded a scholarship today," head coach Dave Wannstedt said after Saturday's practice. "He's a walk-on who's been around here for a few years, and today I told him after practice that he had a scholarship."
A fifth-year walk-on who spent his first year out of Greensburg Central Catholic at Air Force Prep in Colorado before enrolling at Pitt in 2006, Karabin worked his way up from special teams to a spot on the two-deep as the backup at center last season.
He entered training camp as the No. 1 center, and with the ineligibility of running back recruit Andre Givens, it appeared that a scholarship would be open for Karabin. But he wasn't sure until it finally happened on Saturday.
"I guess I was expecting it, but I was still a little bit surprised," Karabin said. "It's nice to see it finally come through. A lot of things could happen throughout camp, so it's good that we're done and it's a nice feeling."
Wannstedt gave word to Karabin after Saturday's practice while the offensive linemen were engaged in a training camp ritual.
"Coach Wise has the young guys carry the seniors off after the last camp practice," Karabin said, "so we were getting carried of and Coach Wannstedt goes, 'Hey Alex, come over here.' So I jumped down and he said, 'Word came in; you're good now for the season. You got your scholarship. You earned it. Good luck.'"
Karabin's mates on the line might have been even more excited than he initially was.
"I'll tell you what, the rest of the offensive linemen reacted faster than he did," Wannstedt said. "Everybody loves Alex and you like to see good things happen to good people."
"The whole team is really a big family, but the offensive line, we're all brothers," Karabin said. "So when they heard, they were jumping up and down more than me. And I got it in the lockerroom from everybody else, too."
For Karabin, the scholarship could be seen as the culmination of four years of hard work, but he's keeping his eyes on the future.
"A lot of hard work has gone into it, but hopefully the payoff is in January when we play in a BCS game. And if we do well then, then this is just a small step, a stepping stone. But that's the real payoff."
Wannstedt has awarded extra scholarships to walk-ons every year since he has been the head coach at Pitt.
"That's neat. You hope to have a couple every year for walk-ons, and we use them up. If we have a scholarship there for a deserving player, we'll definitely going to take advantage of it.
"Andrew Janocko will be another one that we talk to. With what's happening here lately with [the eligibility issues of Andre Givens and Khaynin Mosley-Smith], we'll know exactly where we stand this week. But I would expect that Andrew would be renewed - he was on last year - and then we'll see where the numbers are from there."
According to PantherLair.com's Scholarship Board, the departure of Mosley-Smith and the addition of Karabin leave the team with one available scholarship. Dan Cafaro is the team's lone senior walk-on, so he would seem to be a candidate.