Despite being one of the most productive safeties in Syracuse history during his college career, New Jersey native Keeon Walker did not have a playing career in the NFL. All in all, however, he is happy with the way his life turned out.
”After I left Syracuse, I took a year off,” Walker said. “I was still trying to work my way into the NFL. I played one year of Arena Football with the Manchester Wolves in Manchester, New Hampshire. After that, I didn’t get a call, so I decided that, you know what, I need to put my degree into action. I got into some counseling.
”I ran a couple of programs, one in Newark. After that I worked in Hoboken High School, the school that I’m from. Then I became a firefighter here in Hoboken. On my off-days I substitute teach and I coach football (at Union City). Ultimately, I’m happy. Everyone has that dream of playing in the NFL at the next level.
”Obviously that didn’t happen, but I played a lot of football,” he continued. “I learned a lot and met great people. I have a pretty great life. Ultimately, I can’t say anything bad about my situation. Things turned out great.”
Now Walker is able to continue being involved in football as an assistant coach. He is on the other side of the recruiting process from when he was a coveted high school prospect just 17-years ago. He believes the process has changed quite a bit, and it is much more difficult for players to figure out who really wants them.
”For me, I knew right away who wanted me,” Walker said. “I knew the opportunity that I was going to have. I knew that, for the most part. As of right now, I think that obviously everyone’s trying to get the best players. But I’m not sure if that’s interrupting or getting in the way of recruiting some other kids.
”Not every kid is a five-star. Maybe there’s a three-star who might have the potential to turn into something. Now, it’s we want this one guy. But if we don’t get him it’s just on to the next guy.”
The star-system, which was not around when he was being recruited, is an often debated ranking method. Walker believes it can distort how good a player really is, and therefore impact their recruitment.
”I think it’s about the competition you play,” Walker said. “We’ve all seen kids that are four star or five star that, when they get to college, can’t play a lick of football. We’ve all seen that. I honestly don’t know (about the star system). I think it’s flawed in some ways by the competition.
”It’s the eye test and it’s about the competition. If you’re playing against a bunch of kids that can’t play and you put up 30, 40 plus touchdowns a season, obviously they’re going to have you rated high. But if you’re going up against great competition and not putting up the same numbers, which kid do you want and who should be rated higher? It’s tough to decide.”