Florida State defensive end Demarcus Walker was very highly thought of coming out of high school. He was committed to Alabama for a long period of time before switching to Florida State at the last minute. Walker early enrolled at Florida State and was named a starter for his first game as a true freshman in 2013. The spotlight at that time may have been too big for Walker, but he relinquished the starting spot later in the season.
Walker reclaimed his starting spot in 2014, but didn't make a big impact for the team. He finished the year with 38 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. A lot of the reason that he had such a large amount of trouble was because of the things he was being asked to do. Rather than being asked to be a traditional defensive end Walker was asked to stand up on the outside, and sometimes drop into coverage. New defensive ends coach Brad Lawing talked about how he's not going to put players in positions that they are unable to succeed in this season.
"You have got to be able to bring your guys along within your scheme, maybe your scheme changes, or go find the guys that you want to play in a certain scheme. The guys we’ve got here, we’ve kind of taken our defense and kind of tinkered with it a little bit. We are asking them to do things they can actually do. Don’t ask a guy who is a power guy to be a finesse guy and vice-versa, a finesse guy to be a power guy. There comes times where they may have to do some of that but as a whole, to be a great defense collectively, you have got to have guys doing things that they can actually do.”
Walker is a prime example of that. He knows that he needs to improve and hasn't made excuses like some players would.
"Well I think he is real. Some players try to sugarcoat it, make excuses. He is not an excuse maker. That is fun as a coach. You critique a guy, get on him, and he understands that you are right and he sees it. Some players want to make a million excuses. There is no discussion here, this is what happened. This is what needs to get done to get it corrected. He is one of those guys. I enjoy coaching him. I really do.”
He has responded exceptionally well to Lawing's coaching, and is starting to gain his confidence back.
"[I've learned] A lot," Walker said. "My teammates give me confidence all the time about how much my game improved. I’ve learned to much just taking on blockers differently, a lot of things, just a way better pass rusher."
The lack of a pass rush in 2014 has been a question on everybody's mind heading into the 2015 season. Everybody, that is, except the defensive line according to Walker.
"We’re just motivated to win a national championship," Walker said. "We don’t think about that. we know we got the best defensive end coach in the county. We just listen to what he has to say, apply what he says, we go out there and practice."
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has mentioned Walker as a player who has really stood out to him during the fall camp. This after Walker was named Co-Defensive MVP from spring practice. Walker turning the corner and being the player most thought he would be coming out of high school would be a major boost for the defense, and would be a feather in the cap of defensive ends coach Brad Lawing.