15 Star Athletes Who Had to Walk On to Their College Teams

These pro athletes are stars now, but they had to work their way to the top.

Jordy Nelson

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Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson grew up in Kansas and played quarterback in high school. 

He was good, but only received offers from smaller schools. Nelson decided to chase his dream and joined Kansas State as a walk-on.

Nelson initially played safety at KSU. He made the switch to receiver at the behest of Kansas State coach Bill Sndyer, which turned out to be a wise move.

Nelson blossomed into an All-American wideout, racking up 1,606 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns during his senior season.

The Green Bay Packers drafted Nelson in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He didn't make an immediate impact, totaling just 366 yards his rookie season.

But Nelson soon formed an undeniable chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He totaled 1,263 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns during the 2011 season, yet inexplicably was not selected for the Pro Bowl. 

Nelson then posted at least 1,250 receiving yards in three of the next four seasons, finally earning himself his first Pro Bowl nod in 2014. 

Nelson credits his blue-collar work ethic to growing up on his family's farm. He still returns to the farm every off-season, working long days to cut wheat or herd cattle. 

He even once told ESPN The Magazine he identifies "more as a farmer" than as a football player.

Now with the Oakland Raiders, the former walk-on has the fifth-most touchdown receptions of any active player.