Allen Walker update -

Allen Walker signed with Ole Miss in 2006 out of Olive Branch as one of the most highly-sought safety prospects in the nation, choosing the Rebs over Florida. After a redshirt year, he's ready to show what the recruiting hype was all about. Read about it inside.

Some Rebel fans wondered aloud last season why true freshman Safety Allen Walker was not getting any playing time.

After all, he was one of the most sought-after safety prospects in the country - shunning Florida in favor of Ole Miss.

Allen knows why the coaches opted to redshirt him - and he's glad of it.

"Physically I was almost ready, but mentally I was not even close," said Walker, a 6-1, 206-pounder. "I was messing up my plays six weeks into the season. I'm glad I wasn't out there because I would have messed up in front of a whole lot of people.

"The redshirt year was good for me because I not only got to learn the defensive system and coverages better, I learned good technique in the weight room and took advantage of the extra time to get my body stronger."

"When I came in here, I weighed 196 and wasn't very strong. Now I am 206 and feel a lot stronger," Allen explained. "I still have work to do - you can always get stronger, but I'm better than I was.

"My goal for August is around 210 or so. I feel comfortable with the extra 10 points I have put on. I think I am faster now."

His extra speed has not just come from being stronger. There was a running technique he had to correct as well.

"My running form was poor. It was like I was skating instead of running. I worked on that during the redshirt year too. Now I feel faster from a strength standpoint and form standpoint," he explained.

With a few games left in the 2006 season, Walker was tried in practice at linebacker.

With the depletion of the LB corps heading straight for them, the coaches were looking ahead and considering possible candidates to fill the gaps in spring.

But after some further evaluation, the staff opted to move Walker back to safety, most likely free safety, a spot vacated by Charles Clark, who graduated after starting for three seasons.

"I don't think I am big enough for linebacker, but when the coaches asked me to give it a try last year to help out the team, I was willing," Allen noted. "Safety is where my heart is though."

The two safety slots will have at least five excellent candidates this spring - Walker, Jamarca Sanford will be moved from LB back to SS, sophomore Jamal Harvey, junior college transfer Ashlee Palmer and fellow redshirt frosh and Olive Branch native Markeith Summers.

Coach Ed Orgeron said recently he wasn't sure how that was going to shake out in terms of who will play free safety and who will be a strong safety, but he likes his candidates.

So does Walker.

"There will be a lot of competition back there. Ashlee is a big, strong guy; Markeith is an excellent athlete; Jamarca is a great player; and Jamal is a great athlete. It will be fun competing with those guys," he continued. "May the best two win."

Walker's task is being more consistent and precise in the system. Safety responsibility is probably the most complex on the defense and Walker knows he's got to get his assignments right in order to get on the field.

"My goal this spring is to stay focused and learn. I have to go our every day and get a little bit better than I was the day before in my techniques and in my assignments," Allen stated.

Allen is very optimistic about the prospects for the 2007 secondary.

"I think we have a good mix of some experience with Jamarca and Nate (Banks) and young guys who are very good athletes. We should be a taller, bigger secondary this year and I think that will help us in forcing more turnovers because I think we will have more range in coverages," he assessed. "I think the height we have will be an advantage.

"Also, Coach (John) Thompson put in a new basketball technique, he calls it, that I think will work well and match our talents. I think it will do really well in zone coverages," he added. "We haven't gotten into our blitz packages yet, but we're all excited to see what Coach Thompson has in store for us there too."

Allen is anxious to get started after redshirting last year. He's ready to step on the field on Saturdays knowing there's a chance for his number 9 to be between the sidelines instead of outside them.

"The redshirt was good for me, but now it's my turn to show what I've got and to earn some playing time," he closed.

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