Zack Conti, an offensive lineman at Eastern Michigan University, has also worked odd jobs throughout college in order to stay in school.
Zack Conti, an offensive lineman at Eastern Michigan University, has been a walk-on for the school's football team since 2019. However, it hasn't been easy for him to pursue higher education as Conti has worked odd jobs throughout college to pay his bills, including donating his plasma in order to make extra money.
On July 31, Conti received life-changing news thanks to teammate Brian Dooley. The graduate student, who is two classes short of his advanced degree, heard that Conti might quit due to financial hardships and did not want that to happen. Dooley gave up his own scholarship so that Conti won't have to sell his plasma to pay for college anymore.
.@EMUFB OT Brian Dooley (@Dooley18Brian) made headlines when he gave up his scholarship to walk-on Zack Conti -- a reminder of the good that exists in the sport.— Oliver Hodgkinson (@ojhodgkinson) August 8, 2023
It comes as no surprise to those who know him, however. This is exactly who Dooley is.https://t.co/5ICVXS6wr2
Dooley was certain about what he had planned for his fellow lineman because he was like a member of his family. "I'd do it again in a heartbeat," Dooley said, according to the school's newspaper, The Eastern Echo. "If it helps him more then by all means, I'm gonna give it to him and hopefully, I can later, down the road, help him out even more." The selfless gesture brought Dooley’s mother to tears. Even EMU's head coach Chris Creighton was incredibly proud.
"We're at 85 scholarships," Creighton said while addressing his team, as seen in an emuathletics video that has gone viral. "And no matter how many times or how many years I go to the NCAA and say... 'Man, we need 86, and is there any way that we can have an exception to this deal,' the answer is no." Also, Creighton said that Dooley came into his office and told him he wanted to give his scholarship to Conti, saying: "That guy has earned it." "I've never heard, I've never seen anything like that before," Creighton said of Dooley's act of kindness.
"Football is something I really love, so ever since I got to school, I've had to do whatever it takes to stay here and stay in a good position with academics and football and everything," Conti said in a video shared by the university with ABC News. "So I work a landscaping job and I rip out carpets and I demo tile floors whenever I'm not working or not doing football or going to school. It's been a grind my whole life, but, I mean, when you really want something, it's like you do what you need to do to keep it going."
During the meeting, Dooley handed an envelope to Conti and gave him a big hug. His teammates joined in and cheered to celebrate the sweet moment. "It just felt unbelievable, like I felt like my hard work has paid off," Conti added, according to Good Morning America. "I can't really describe it. You work this hard for this long and you just hope a day like this comes where it's like, you're finally rewarded. It was a great feeling."