Adapted from Frances Wallace's novel, the son of Italian immigrants gets a scholarship to Yale, where he plays football and falls in love with a woman from a wealthy family.
Tony Amatto (Ramon Navarro) works in the steel mill and gets into a fight. He tells his Ma (Ferike Boros) and Pa (Henry Armetta) he got a scholarship to college. Tony rooms with Larry Wilson (Frank Albertson). Tony meets Rosalie Stone (Madge Evans) and sings a song for her; but her brother Tom Stone (Kane Richmond) gets angry at him. In his sophomore year Tony gets in a brawl with Pidge (John Arledge), and they decide to room together. At football practice Tony makes tackles and breaks Pidge's leg. In a game Tony scores a touchdown. Barbara Winston (Martha Sleeper) drinks with Tony instead of with Tom, and Tony kisses her. Rosalie picks up Tony in her car. He kisses her and invites her to a room. She is offended and drops him off. Drunk, Tony disrupts the singing in the dining hall. Pidge and others hide him from Coach Malcolm Gale (Ralph Graves). In a game Tony recovers a fumble; but Gale takes Tony out for being too rough. Tony comes off the bench to stop a touchdown, saying the penalty was not as bad. Pidge turns down a fraternity he wanted, because Tony was not picked. Tony wants to quit football and fights the coach; Tony is knocked out, and both get black eyes.
In the spring Tony apologizes to Rosalie and says he loves her. Mr. Stone (Rockliffe Fellowes) tells Tony that Rosalie loves him, and he asks if Tony expects him to support them, suggesting that Tony give her up. Barbara invites Tony into her car, and Tom leaves; but Tony declines. Tony finds Rosalie in his room. She refuses to leave and wants to get married. Tony says she would be a drudge. They kiss, and she leaves. Tom thinks she was Barbara and accuses Tony, who admits he was drinking.
Before the Harvard game Tony goes to the doctor, who says he has appendicitis and should have an operation; but Tony runs out. Tony's parents come to root for him. Tony fumbles, and the coach takes him out. In the last quarter Tony asks to go in. He carries the ball and is hurting; but he scores to break the tie. Gale sends Tony to the showers, where he writhes in pain. Harvard ties the game. Tom slaps Tony, who refuses to fight. Tom says Tony is yellow. Mr. Amatto tells Pidge that Tony is sick in the hospital. Pidge tells the team and Rosalie. She tells Tom that she was in Tony's room. Tony and Pidge graduate. Mr. Stone gives the Amattos an envelope, and Tony kisses Rosalie.
Despite his success in football Tony finds social prejudice against him for being working class, though he seems to have won some over with his heroic sacrifice.