That’s life for any player coming off a serious injury.
K-State coaches are being cautious with Walker, allowing him to practice only in a limited capacity, and Walker understands why. For now, he is pleased they are allowing him to suit up and get on the field.
“I shouldn’t even be running and jogging right now,” Walker said, “but I can honestly say I am cutting and running and doing the workouts. It’s kind of scary to the doctors, because they don’t feel that I should be back this early. But it really is nothing but a blessing.”
Walker missed the final five games last season after going down with an injury to his right knee against Texas Tech. Walker and K-State haven’t clarified the exact nature of the injury, but it required surgery and he spent several weeks on crutches.
After the procedure, doctors told Walker he would be able to return to the practice field in time for the start of summer practices. Walker pushed for an earlier return.
“The day I got out of surgery I got one day off and we got right back to the drawing board,” Walker said. “We do rehab every day. I lift extra twice a day, just so I can get back and catch up with the rest of the guys. It has been a true testament to where I am supposed to be and where I have been.”
Walker obviously got busy in the weight room. He also kept busy on the sidelines, traveling to K-State’s road games despite his injury to lead the team onto the field and provide vocal leadership. He continued making an impact.
Still, he would have preferred to keep playing.
“The hardest thing was just to watch,” Walker said. “I can’t stand to watch. I was just hoping and wishing I could get in and make some of those plays. That’s the biggest things. When you lead, sometimes you have to follow. I was just doing the best I could to work with my teammates in spite of what I was going through. I think it made me stronger and realize that this is temporary, but the bonds you build with your teammates lasts forever.”
His teammates will rely on him to return to the field and return to his sophomore form next season.
Walker regressed as a junior, making 19 tackles in eight games in mostly a backup role. Arthur Brown, Jarell Childs and Justin Tuggle were the team’s top three linebackers. Walker was much better as a freshman, making 47 tackles in 13 games, and as a sophomore, making 52 tackles (including several huge stops on a goal-line stand against Miami) in 13 games.
He will have the opportunity to bounce back next season, though. With Brown, Childs and Tuggle all gone, and K-State searching for a new identity on defense, Walker’s talent, leadership and health will be more important than ever.
That’s why he is happy to be on the field in any capacity right now.
“It would mean a lot just to keep on practicing,” Walker said. “The spring game is not such a big deal. We are more worried about (the season-opener against North Dakota State). I think if I can get back for that and do well we will be successful.”