Walker's Last Charge

Senior outside linebacker Allen Walker has been through a lot of changes and has seen even more during his tenure at Ole Miss. Read about it inside.

For Ole Miss senior outside linebacker Allen Walker, 2005 seems like an eternity ago on one hand, but that time frame has flown by on the other.

"I've lived, and learned, a lot since I have been here. There have been hard times and great times. I'm not the same person I was when I came here," he said. "When you are living it, it seems like the days last forever. But as I sit here right now, these years have really flashed by.

"Markeith (Summers), Ted (Laurent), Lawon (Scott) and I were talking about that just last night. It's been a long road in some ways, but it's flown by in others. Regardless, here we sit as seniors."

Allen Walker

Walker came to Ole Miss from Olive Branch as a highly-recruited safety expecting to make an instant impact.

He was a bit brash, certainly immature - as most 18 year olds are - and a bit prone to making bad decisions.

Now, on the brink of his fifth season as a Rebel, he's full grown, mature, insightful and kind of reserved, except when he's on the football field.

"Allen has grown up a lot since we have been here," said Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix, who has had Walker for two full years and is heading into his third season with Allen as his starting Sam LB. "He has learned what it takes to succeed on and off the field. He understands, and gives, the effort required and has turned himself into a very solid football player I can count on to do the right things.

"He's also stepped up as a senior by setting a good example and being a leader to our young guys. I'm very happy with Allen."

Walker concurs.

"I have changed so much. When I came in here, I had no idea what was going on or how to respond. Sometimes I didn't follow the rules," he noted. "I had to grow up. I had to learn to conform. I had to quit being a boy and become a man or I wasn't going to last here.

"I had some choices to make in terms of changing my life and fortunately I chose the right way."

Allen Walker

That process required taking care of business he took for granted before.

"Playing college football is hard. You have to want it. It's not like high school where you play on ability and everything comes easy," he explained. "Everyone is good on this level and what separates you is the effort you put into it.

"There are exceptions to that, but I'm not one of them. I was a safety who wasn't quite fast enough and then a linebacker who was a little undersized. I was kind of a tweener and had to make myself into a linebacker."

With a change of direction, and a new mentor coming in, Allen basically had a new lease on life when Houston Nutt took over.

He's made the most of it and will enter his third year as a starter in 2010.

Even though virtually every prognosticator has picked the Rebels as one of the best front seven units in the league, Allen learned a long time ago not to take anything for granted.

"You get in trouble when you start reading the clippings too much," he laughed. "We know we have the potential to be good, but we also have learned through the years that nothing happens without hard work.

"None of us are saying we're good. We're saying we want to be good, we know we can be good, so let's go get it."

As a senior, Walker is trying to drive that mindset and attitude home to the younger guys.

"I had older players lead me in the right direction, once I learned to listen, and that's what I want to pass on to the younger guys," he said. "Work hard, don't fall behind because it's hard to catch up, know your assignments, pay attention, stay focused, play downhill, play fast - all the things I learned were important."

Allen has a protege right now - Mike Marry - he believes is going to be special.

"Mike catches on quickly. He's smart and has good instincts. He's going to be a great player," Allen stated. "He doesn't have the experience the older guys have, but he's willing to grind and get it done.

Mike Marry

"What I like about Mike is that he listens and takes to heart what me and the older players tell him. He pays attention."

Walker laughs when he thinks about the younger linebackers now in the program - Marry. Joel Kight, D.T. Shackelford, Clarence Jackson and Ralph Williams.

"Man, if I was a freshman right now, I might ask to be moved back to safety," he chuckled. "These guys are coming in here now at 225-230-235 and they can run and they are smart. Jackson looks like P-Willie (Patrick Willis) did when he came in here. D.T. is crazy good. Mike is going to be a great player. Joel is starting already. Williams looks good.

"If I was coming in with them, I'd have to find another position. I came in at 190 pounds. These guys were already physically mature when they got here. I think the linebacker positions will be in good hands for a long time."

In the meantime, it's Allen's show at WLB. He intends to make the most of it.

"I'm healthy now after getting that sports hernia fixed last winter and struggling with it during spring ball. I feel great. I'm anxious to get to the first game and apply what I have learned my previous two years of playing a lot and starting," he closed.

Slow down, Allen. While January may seem like a long time away, it will be over before you can bat an eye.

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