TV Recap – Eli Manning Explores the Journey of a Walk-On in Latest “Eli’s Places”

Eli Manning is back as he continues to explore the world of college football in a brand new season of Eli’s Places on ESPN+. After this brother Peyton took us through the NFL and several other athletes – like Abby Wambach, Vince Carter, David Ortiz, Ronda Rousey and others – took us through their respective sports, it’s time to dive back into some football.

The seventh episode, simply titled “Walk-Ons,” sees Eli follow the journey of those players who didn’t earn scholarships and instead had to scratch and claw their way onto teams. He meets with one of the greatest walk-on quarterbacks ever and even tries to become a walk-on himself.

In the opening, Eli explains that college football programs get to keep up to 125 players but can only issue 85 scholarships. That’s the kind of context needed to really give the audience a feel for what this whole episode is talking about. He also gives us the mandatory mention of beloved films like The Water Boy and Rudy, which tell the stories of walk-on players.

He then meets with Georgia quarterback and National Champion, Stetson Bennett, who was of course a walk-on. Bennett takes us through his story and explains his bold choice to pass on some scholarships in order to try and walk on at Georgia. He of course succeeded and led the Bulldogs to last year’s national title. Of course, Eli works some of his humor into this segment to keep things light, but it’s also very interesting to hear Bennett’s story and what the whole experience was like for him.

Eli then heads to Penn State, to see if he could possibly be a walk-on himself. He meets with head coach James Franklin and tells him he wants to try out fo his team. Franklin expresses his concerns of Eli being a distraction so Eli heads off to transform his look.

With some new hair and a bad mustache, Eli takes on the persona of Chad Powers. He video calls Peyton who laughs at his brother’s new look. And it only gets better from there. Eli – sorry – Chad goes through a walk-on tryout and everyone there starts taking notice. The coaches even say they see something in him. That is, until coach Franklin reveals he is ineligible and Eli comes clean about his true identity.

This is one of the funniest segments in this show’s short history. From Eli’s horrible new look to his attitude as Chad Powers, everything will have you laughing from start to finish. Eli then gets to give a surprise scholarship to one of the Penn State players, just to bring it all home.

This was a strong episode of Eli’s Places because it tackled one of the most interesting aspects of sports. That has to be true because of all the great movies made about walk-on athletes. It then gets taken over the top by Chad Powers, which gives us one of the most memorable moments this show will ever have.

You can watch Eli’s Places on ESPN+ now. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $6.99 a month and can cancel at any time.