Walters Not In Passive Role Despite Rehab

Ryan Walters is expected to be a starting safety when the Buffs open their 2008 season against Colorado State Aug. 30. For now, though, Walters is learning another role.

Ryan Walters didn't sweat as much as his teammates, and he certainly didn't puke his guts out during any early morning runs like some did the past few months. He had offseason surgery to clean up some lingering issues in one of his shoulders. That kept Walters out of much of the team's offseason workouts, but it didn't keep him from attending the workouts.

"I would just show up and give moral support," Walters said earlier this week, as CU's spring practices began. "I'd do some rehab and ride the bike."

During unsupervised 7 on 7 workouts, Walters would call defensive plays. But his role was more of a mentor.

"I'd coach the guys up," he said. "Really I just took a step back and let the younger guys develop."

While it hurt Walters, who's started more than 20 games during his career at CU, to not be able to fully join in all the offseason festivities, he enjoyed his role.

"It's always an honor to be able to help somebody," Walters said. "My job is to try and share the knowledge I've gained the last four years — how to play, how to prepare. It's an honor to be able to take a mentorship role."

Walters said he's begun to think about coaching as a profession when he's done playing. That's in part because of the coaching he's received, he said.

"I could see myself doing that in the future," he said. "(Secondary) Coach (Greg) Brown has been a great role model and mentor to me. The guy knows so much, and he cares about his players. He's making a difference in guys' lives. So is Coach Hawk. He always preaches about how he cares about us as people first. It's true. We've had a lot of soul-to-soul talks. You see the transformation – we come in as young men and leave as adults. It's pretty remarkable."

For most of the rest of the senior class, this past offseason was the third or fourth they've been through. It was Walters' fifth, because he graduated high school a semester early, entered school in January and took part in offseason training his first time in 2004.

Though he didn't pump the iron because of his shoulder surgery, he watched the workouts closely.

"This is by far the best offseason we've had since I've been here," Walters said. "Everybody was giving it their all and enjoying the thing, and working at getting better. I really liked that fact.

"Our numbers are way up from last spring. I'm just excited about the whole atmosphere here. You're going to get people throwing up in the early morning runs from working hard. But nobody quit, nobody gave up, nobody slacked off. Everybody bought in to what Coach Hawkins and (strength) Coach Pit have been talking about."

Walters is not able to practice this spring due to the shoulder rehab. He said his shoulder feels better this week than he was told it would. In other words, the rehab is ahead of schedule. But doctors want to be conservative with the recovery.

He expects to be 100 percent and in the lineup by the time the Buffs travel to Denver to take on the Rams. Still, though he's not able to practice, he's not taking a passive approach to football. That's not his nature. He's right in the thick of things.

"My job this spring is to get (the younger defensive backs) so that mentally they're ready to play in the Big 12," he said.

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