The left tackle missed most of fall camp due to injury, was again injured during the season and then was challenged -- and eventually lost his starting spot -- to freshman Max Tuerk after showing coaches less than the effort expected on the offensive line.
Now a junior, Walker admits he was nervous his sophomore season, starting for the first time in his career with all the weight and expectations of protecting quarterback Matt Barkley on his shoulders. "I was dealing with adversity," Walked explained. "It was just a bad way with how I dealt with it, but I'm good now. I'm a lot happier now and more focused than anything."
Seven months removed from the rollercoaster 2012 season, Walker seems to have more confidence, more drive, and sounds like he's now facing the reality that he has to step up in 2013.
Walker, 6-foot-6 and currently 300-pounds, says he's worked hard this summer not only with the offensive line, but is getting the defensive linemen to help him out, too.
"Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin are two of the best defensive linemen in the country right now," Walker explained to FOX Sports NEXT after Tuesday's throwing session. "You've got to beat the best to be the best, so I've been working with them as far as technique and talking to the coaches to get better."
Walker has also been reaching out to one of the most successful left tackles in USC history, current Minnesota Viking Matt Kalil. "He's been talking to me a lot about technique," Walker said. "Keep your hands tight, have a great punch, keep your shoulders square for pass protection. That's the main thing I need to work on - is pass protection."
Off the field Walker has been leaning on new offensive line coach Mike Summers for mentoring and support. "He's a great guy," Walker said. "He's a veteran, great coach. What more could you ask for? He knows everything. He helps you on and off the field. He talks to me about my personal problems. He's a person I can talk to and get a lot off my touch and open up to."
Walker says he wants to get his playing weight up to 310-pounds as the season gets ready to kick off.
The Trojans open their schedule Aug. 29 at Hawaii.