Darius Walker - RB - 5-11, 195, 4.38/40 - Buford, GA
You've already heard the name. You have already read the stats. You've seen some of the principles involved in regards to schools looking at him and vice versa. What about his nickname though? Yeah, that's right.
Some have been bouncing around as to any one word that can summarize Darius's broad abilities, but those didn't seem to either fit or at least in my perspective, separate him from nicknames used by just about everyone else. So, with the permission of Darius himself, I came up with an abbreviated (he likes abbreviated nicknames, his current one at school being " D-Walk") moniker that would aptly describe just what you are going to get when Walker hits the field.
"T.W." as in "The Works". The total package, front to back, the whole enchilada. Running, both physical and fleet, hands, both soft and sure, combined with patience and vision, what else can you say about a kid or what he brings to the table when he would appear to bring everything but the proverbial kitchen sink? Ok, "T.W." then.
Let's move on.
I know you are saying it to yourself. What in the world makes Darius so special that he can separate himself from the rest of this stat-heavy bunch, where each seems to have the right to say they are one of the best. Good question.
First, he's from Georgia, a haven for great running backs from the likes of Billy Paschal to Jabari Davis to of course, Herschel Walker. Who's to say that Darius fits in this elite group, but when a back comes out of this state, expectations are usually high.
Second, how about those stats? Almost 2 grand on the ground last year and 26 touchdowns makes for a nice season anywhere. Darius managed to average over 8.8 yards within that, every time he touched the ball.
Third, some of his best comes when he's going against the best:
Dec. 13, 2002, Darius's school (Buford) takes on the two-time defending state champ and current number one team, The Americus Panthers. Darius picks the toughest game of his career to put up a couple of career highs; Rushing attempts (26) and rushing yards (219) in a game. Check that average per carry. Over 8 yards a pop against the team that WAS the best in 2A ball, two years + running. "I like it when people are looking to me to make that play." Darius said in our interview. "When they look to you to make that play, that's where I want to be."
Fourth, Darius is as prominent on the honor roll as he is on your pre-season All-American list, boasting a 4.0 GPA.
Like I said, "The Works".
Now that you have a brief overview of this young man, let's segue into our "One-on-One" segment with "T.W." as we hit him with a variety of questions, some the usually asked and some, the not-so-usually asked.
What do you enjoy most about the game? "The excitement. I love it when the game is on the line."
When you got one guy in front of you in the open-field, what goes through your mind? "I kind of let him make the move. I try to take what the defense gives me, so whatever move he makes, I just react off of that."
Is there any one aspect of being a running back that you enjoy more than another? "I just like it when people have to depend on me. When it comes to me to make the play, I like that more than anything."
What's your strength as a running back? "Vision, speed and power. I try to be a back that can do it all. Not only run you over, but be able to run around you, make the spin move and the cuts."
What do you look for in the schools at the next level in regards to criteria that is important to you? "I would like to go to a school that has a great balance of academics and athletics. But, I also am looking at a place where I might have a chance to play right away."
Is there any kind of offense that appeals to you? "I like the I-back set. I am definitely looking for a place that is going to have an emphasis on the running game."
Considering your rising popularity, have you thought about what it would be like to be considered the best back in the entire country? "I guess it has kind of came with the publicity. Now, I think about it, that maybe I am or can be."
"I wouldn't say it is something I was thinking about. I was always just thinking that I wanted to get better than I was."
What will be the hardest part of your season season? "I think keeping focused on my high school year. Just trying not to look beyond this year and when they are going to be coming to your house, it's going to be hard not to look beyond high school."
How many offers do you have right now? "About 20 right now."
Have you narrowed your list down at all? "Not really, but I have a few I am interested in."
Who? "Notre Dame, Stanford, Nebraska, Michigan and Arkansas."
Nebraska - "Their emphasis on the running back is definitely something I am looking for."
Notre Dame - "They had a great year last year and have a good tradition of academics and football."
Michigan - "They have a great balance of academics and athletics"
Stanford - "Great academics."
Arkansas - "My dad went there."
Are you playing the whole recruiting process out or thinking about pulling the trigger earlier than that? "I think when I find the right school, I will commit. Whether that is early or not, I don't know, but that is definitely a possibility, but so is waiting and seeing how things play out."
What's your hobby if any? "Basketball. It's just something I like to do in my downtime."
What's your favorite soup? "Vegetable beef, because it's really meaty."
You know what's meaty? This young man. No, not necessarily in stature, but think of the ways this young man could help your college football team and that's a hearty helping of a standout that can fill your expectations and leave the competition watering at the mouth.
His coach (Dexter Wood) once asked (rhetorically) of this young man in an interview, "He's something special, isn't he?" One would have to agree and think, he's still looking at a year of prep football to go.
I personally think, "The Works" is about as applicable as can be when you are talking about Walker. He embodies pretty much everything you want in the backfield in just about any system. Great side-to-side, but north-south in his running, Darius takes potential and realizes it, sometimes at the most crucial moments. On top of that, I'll throw in my own personal comment in that he is just a super kid to talk to. If that's not "The Works", I don't know what is.
Darius "The Works" (or just "T.W." as he might prefer) Walker.
Yeah, I like it.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619