John Walker was a United States Navy Chief warrant officer and communications specialist who was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union from 1968 to 1985. Although No. 22 on the Bobcat football team shares the same name, he could only be accused of potentially stealing an opponent’s playbook. Every game, Walker shows an uncanny ability to read the opponent’s offense. Relied upon as an island cornerback, he is expected to maintain single coverage of the opposing team’s top wide receiver, a cornerstone of the defense.
In order to be a successful player, Walker subscribes his opponent to an open stream of trash-talking that would make for a great NFL Films edition of “Mic’d up.” “No lacking, all action” is how Walker refers to not only saying things to get into the opponents’ heads but their actions as well. “It builds my confidence, I start by talking to myself, then to the opponent letting them know I will be here all day,” he said. After big plays, he is sure to remind them — “I let them know it won’t stop.”
His success this season should not come as a surprise. Walker was highly recruited out of high school. As a senior, he was ranked the No. 51 cornerback in the country by ESPN.com, which also ranked him as the No. 6 player from Washington D.C.
His success on the football field also extended into the classroom. He maintained a 4.0 GPA the last three quarters and was named salutatorian of his high school graduating class.
From his hometown of Washington D.C., Walker took his talents to University of Colorado Boulder. He redshirted his first year, then the next year he played in 10 games and started one as the nickel corner. As a sophomore he appeared in all 12 games, starting in seven. During that season Walker played in 438 snaps from scrimmage, mostly covering the slot receiver. He recorded 28 tackles including 19 solo tackles and one for a loss. He also had two tackles for no gain, three third-down stops, a forced fumble, a touchdown save and five broken up passes.
But at CU he wasn’t getting what he wanted. “I didn’t play as much as I felt I should have,” he said. “They didn’t see what I saw in me.”
He decided to transfer after earning his sociology degree from Colorado. He wanted a program that would give him the best chance to improve his prospects to get into the NFL.
Due to some complications with the admissions process of getting into MSU’s graduate program he briefly committed to the University of North Dakota. However, once the process was complete he re-committed to MSU. This was in part due to his connection with the MSU coaching staff.
Luckily, he is happy with his decision. Transferring from the PAC-12 Conference, where he played against Division I powerhouses like University of Southern California, University of Utah, and University of Oregon, he is very impressed with the competition within the Big Sky Conference.
“The PAC-12 was more finesse, here [in the Big Sky] it’s tougher, you have to put your big-boy pants on,” Walker said, “I definitely have more time to react, but I have to play a more physical game.”
His fearlessness extends off the field as well. On a hot day, Walker will not be found sitting on the couch. He will be outside enjoying a ride on his dirt bike and listening to some Go-Go music, a style originating from his hometown of D.C.
This season the Bobcats are now 2-4 and 0-3 against Big Sky Conference foes with each loss being by less than a touchdown. While the offense has struggled to produce points, the defense remains the backbone of the team. This is in large part to the success and leadership of Walker. So far, he has 17 total tackles, one sack, and three interceptions.
MSU Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander sees what Walker brings to the team. “We know what kind of player he is, what he can do for this team and what type of person he is. Him being a senior, an instant leader, it’s definitely rubbing off on a lot of our young guys in the room,” Alexander said.
While the Bobcats may be struggling to win games, be sure to keep an eye on Walker, possibly the next great Bobcat. The Bobcats’ next game is Oct. 15 at Weber State. Watch the game on Root Sports at 1:30 p.m.