Walker Ready to Impact

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Safety Javon Walker was one of the more unheralded members of NC State's 2006 recruiting class, but he could make the biggest impact for the Wolfpack this season.

A 6-foot, 190-pound defender out of Homestead (FL) South Dade High School, Javon Walker was a two-star prospect who chose the Wolfpack over an offer from South Florida. His high school head coach, Dan Drinkhahn, believed Walker's ability to play all over the field may have actually hurt his recruitment.
"I think I'm a ballhawk."

"He can play on that level without a doubt," said Drinkhahn. "Javon is a very, very good player. He is underrated in my opinion, and I think that is because we moved him around so much on defense, but that is because he helped in a lot of ways.

"We played him at linebacker and even defensive end, but he'll be a strong safety at North Carolina State. He's a very mature player."

Playing defensive end, where he recorded 100 tackles and eight sacks as a senior in one of Florida's toughest football conferences, is actually now a positive for Walker.

"I played a lot of defensive end in high school," he said. "I started [playing defensive end] as a sophomore, and I played it more my junior and season year. I say I'm a tough guy because I had to go through that in high school... battling those offensive linemen.

"I'm a tough guy. Anything can come my way, and I'm not going to back down."

After enrolling at NC State he impressed the previous coaching staff with his playmaking ability, but an ankle injury prevented him from playing as a true freshman. Now he sees the injury as a blessing.

"It was very tough to redshirt," said Walker. "I've been playing football ever since I was seven, and I never sat out a year. Last year I traveled to all of the games with the team and I think I was suppose to play but I had a hurt ankle. I used to just get pumped up for the team when they would make big plays, and now I'm going to be out there making them.

"I think it's going to be a blessing. I'm now glad I didn't play because I would have probably wasted a year not seeing the field as much, and now I have a better opportunity to get on the field. I still have four years to do what I can here."

Walker has really turned it on. Playing strong safety, he capped a solid spring with a two-interception performance in the Red-White Game, and he has been singled out for his strong play by defensive backs coach Mike Reed. An instinctive player, Walker's ability to find the football and make plays is what he does best.

"I think I'm a ballhawk," he stated. "I'm all over the field and I'm always where the ball is. I'm good with my technique, and I try to help the team as much as I can by making big plays."

His emergence has added even more competition to a strong secondary. Returning strong safety DaJuan Morgan is coming off a sophomore season where he finished fourth on the team in tackles (82) despite starting just one game. The team's leading returning tackler, Morgan is a physical specimen who is one of the top returning players at the position in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The fact that Walker is pushing him for the starting position shows just how good he has been performing, but the humble redshirt freshman doesn't consider it a battle.

"It's not really a battle," said Walker. "We're just both competitive. We're really working hard, and we work together. Who starts is really up to the coaches because we both try our best and go out there and play hard.

Morgan is NC State's top returning tackler.

"Off the field we are like brothers because we hang out a lot, and on the field we're great competitors."

The secondary is expected to be the strength of NC State's 2007 defense. With Morgan and starting free safety Miguel Scott returning, along with seasoned cornerbacks Jimmie Sutton, Levin Neal, J.C. Neal, Phillip Holloman, and Jeremy Gray, NC State is well-stocked in the defensive backfield.

"We're always looking to make big plays," Walker said of the secondary. "Everyone says we have the most experience, but we still have to go out there and do our best to make plays to help the team. We want to go out there and get some turnovers for our offense."

After being primarily a man-to-man defense under Chuck Amato, NC State will utilize more zone schemes under Tom O'Brien and defensive coordinator Mike Archer. The chance to create more turnovers has Walker very happy.

"I like running zone now," he said. "We get our hands on the ball more and it gives us a better opportunity to get some turnovers. It gives our offense a better chance to score and better field position.

"Last year with man-to-man, we didn't have our hands on the ball as much because we would stick to our man. This year when we play zone, we zone off and see everything coming across and coming at us. With the way we can attack the ball, I think it's going to be good."

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