Humility Helps Walter Deal with Pre-Season Hype

Heisman candidate. Bolting early to the NFL. Those scenarios and other lofty accolades are quite common when discussing the expectations for Andrew Walter. However the ASU quarterback knows that what he experienced this time a year ago puts the present in perspective.

Last spring practice, following the departure of then starter Jeff Krohn, it was generally assumed that Walter would be a lock for the starter's position. However, poor practice habits at the time and other issues not only prevented Walter from being appointed as the number one signal caller, but also moved him to ponder his future at ASU.

The junior says that those tumulus times helped him both appreciate his success now and also aid him in dealing with the incoming realistic and sometimes unrealistic expectations. "Everything in the past was a negative, and you try to turn a negative into a positive. Now, it's time to play down the positive or at least take it with a grain of salt. You don't want to turn into a negative, but you also don't want that to turn into your focus. I could definitely understand now how guys can lose their focus. I couldn't understand before because everything was negative. You hear it and you read it (the hype), and it's a challenge. It's a different challenge, but that's what I have to go through."

Walter, who in 2002 broke the school's single season passing record with his 3,877 yards, acknowledges that the trails and tribulations he went through last season were a blessing in disguise. "No question. I would never wish for anything else to happen. If that didn't happen, I wouldn't be humbled. If I was the man from the start, who knows where my ego would have been. I think it (ego) is in check for the most part (smile). It was like being put in your place, and then when you have success it puts it in reality."

The Phoenix native, who lived most of his live in Colorado, admitted that it has taken him a little bit time to shake off the rust in practice. "Yesterday (Monday) was one of those days where I could finally hang my hat on. I was getting my timing down, and knowing where to go with my reads. It does take a while to get back in it." When asked in specific what skills he's looking to improve during the spring session he replied: "Playing with my eyes…knowing my reads and progressions. Knowing where I have to go with the ball, and doing it as fast as possible. Fundamentals and techniques are stuff that I always have to work on, but those are two main things I'm working on."

On the other hand, having the vast majority of receivers returning from last year does breed familiarity, which usually leads to success. "Having all those guys back does create a comfort zone. Losing key guys never helps. But by in large we were getting everybody back. We have to get on the same page with the young guys, in terms of plays. But it does help to have more guys back that I can play off and trust." The ASU quarterback singled out Skyler Fulton as receiver that's standing out a bit over the rest. Nevertheless, he's complimentary of all his aerial targets, and does expect great feats this year. "All of them have a chance to catch 30-40 balls each – no question. Hopefully we'll have four, maybe five guys each with 500 yards. Hopefully I'll get chance to throw that many (smile). …I don't see one guy catching 87 balls (a la Shaun McDonald). I don't know how many receivers in the history of the Pac-10 did that. I think it will be receiver by committee. If we have the balance, teams won't be able to stack up against one guy. I think everybody is really solid and have the potential to stand out. You have guys that have been around, and it's safe to throw them the football."

With all the good and the bad Andrew Walter endured, one wonders if he needed to enter this 2003 season with a change in mentality or approach? "Not necessarily. There are more positive distractions that you shouldn't get caught up in, but you could. For me that's a challenge not to get caught up in those. Right now it's about having fun. That sometimes gets lost in the shuffle and the hype. But if you're not having fun – why are you out here? All things considered, it's a different feel, but it doesn't make it less enjoyable. We're doing stuff to gear up for the season. This should be a big one, and as players I think we realize that." Having Fun? Gearing up for a big season? Those are notions Andrew Walter wouldn't consider entreating a year ago today. What a difference a year has made…

Sun Devil Source Top Stories