Florida State defensive end Demarcus Walker has really turned it around this season. He's been one of the best players on the Florida State defense, which is a complete turn around from last season.
Last year, Walker started at defensive end, but struggled to get to the quarterback as well as keeping contain on the edge. Walker finished the season with 38 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble in 14 games.
During the offseason defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri left to take the defense ends coaching job for the Oakland Raiders. His replacement, Brad Lawing, came over from Florida and immediately started to make an impact. When it came to Walker, Lawing was pleased with his demeanor and work ethic.
"Well, I think he is real," Lawing said at Florida State media day. "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.”
Walker has taken that coaching well, and currently leads the team in tackles for loss and sacks. Through the first nine games of the season Walker has 31 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 4 pass breakups, and 2 forced fumbles. Walker believes that a lot of his progression comes from the way he is preparing this year.
"With me it’s just my power of preparation," Walker said. "That is the big reason why my production is so high. I have a great coach. I just matured so much. I just knew it in the spring that everybody doubting me coming into the season, I’m going to prove a lot of people wrong. I’ve done that. And I’ve lived up to that expectation. And I still have a lot to do. My goal is to get better every week. I have no sack goal, I have no tackle goal. To get better every week and get the W. That’s all I care about."
Walker had a little help from one of the best in the NFL as far as how he prepares now compared to last season, particularly in the way he watches film.
"I watch it differently," Walker said. "To be honest with you, that comes from coach Lawing. His son is the defensive quality control guy with the Texans. Me and him sat down. I was supposed to meet with him for a couple of minutes. I wound up meeting with him for an hour or two. He taught me so much. Breaking down film and all that stuff. Plus I got some tips from JJ Watt, from him being around him. That helped also."
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has been impressed by how much work he put in during the offseason, and during the season.
"Loves the game," Fisher said. "He loves the game of football, and does everything to be a great teammate and play better. He just works constantly. He’s one of those guys that constantly goes. He’s going to get better because he’s going to make himself better. Wills himself to be better."
Walker's improvement is a great example of how players respond differently to different coaches, and coach Lawing has definitely made an impact during his short time at Florida State. Walker's progression will definitely be something to watch for as his career at Florida State goes on.