Joe Walker is ready to make the most of what could be a very extended time away from live game action. As a greyshirt, Walker, the Associated Press Wisconsin State Player of the Year, will attend Wisconsin in the fall but will not be a member of the Badger football team. That designation will have to wait until spring. And even then, it could be a while before he takes the field; Walker anticipates redshirting in 2005, following the greyshirt.
"That is probably the most probable thing that will happen but on the most extreme…if I did awesome in spring football then I guess I could suit up then play that first year ," Walker said.
Walker plans to take part in voluntary workouts in the summer then continue to work on his own to learn the system and add speed and strength in the fall when, unlike most recruits, he cannot have a formal association with the team.
"I'll still be around with the guys and still be talking to coaches," Walker said. "It will be nice to get some classes out of the way, like some basic stuff. Just learning as much as I can, getting bigger and faster basically."
Walker is not worried about occupying himself during his time apart from football and is comfortable with his greyshirt status and the possibility of redshirting down the road. His one real concern, though, is that with the time off he could get "out of the swing of the things."
"But I know Jack [Ikegwuonu] got a greyshirt too," Walker said. "I'll have the other kids to work with. They're not going to just let me kind of fall off. They wouldn't greyshirt me and just kind of put me to the wayside. That would be kind of a waste of time, so I'm really not worried about it. The only thing for me is not playing football for a year."
An exceptional defensive end and tight end for Green Bay Notre Dame, Walker could play drop linebacker or safety at Wisconsin.
"I'm not even exactly sure what position I'm going to play yet," Walker said. "I know outside linebacker is probably where I'll start at but I know last time I talked to [Wisconsin coach Barry] Alvarez he said something about safety too.
"I have never really played any of those spots so I really couldn't say I prefer one over the other. If I had to choose I'd probably want to start out maybe at safety. I think that'd be a little bit more fun getting to run around and I think I could definitely make some plays."