TCCHS's improv wizard to call for Jackets tonight

He may look like Michael Vick, throw like Michael Vick, and run like Michael Vick, but Eric Walden knows he has a lot to learn before he truly is the "next" Michael Vick.

Thomas County Centrals Junior signal caller doesn't get a lot of national publicity, actually he gets none. It's not because of his arm or his legs, Walden led the region in rushing with over 1,300 yards on the ground and has matched that in the air.

"He gets better with every game," says TCCHS Head Coach Ed Pilcher, "He has Michael Vick athleticism. He keeps his poise and doesn't get rattled in the pocket. The pressure doesn't bother him. There will never be another Charlie Ward, but he's a similar type athlete."

Eric is the second Walden brother Pilcher has coached. Eric's older brother A.J. plays wide receiver for Valdosta State University. Coach Pilcher knows he's been blessed to have the boys, especially Eric who has been the sparkplug for the Jackets 12-0 season.

"His grandpa and grandma live here. His dad played football in Thomasville. He hasn't been in the school system long," says Pilcher, "but we are glad he decided to move from South Carolina."

McNair won't be as glad as he will be tonight. The Jackets are one win away from a trip to the Georgia Dome. If they go there, they're must rely on the improvosational skills of their quarterback. While the fans may like Walden's spontaneous approach, his coach sometimes gets a bit nervous.

"You have to let an athlete be an athlete," says Pilcher. " Walden makes good decisions when he improvs. When he sees what he wants, he takes it. You can't get mad at him for doing that, you have to let him make plays."

Colleges aren't calling yet: Walden is a junior who needs to work harder in the classroom.

"We have to work on his academics," says Pilcher, "If he concentrates on school as much as he does football, he'll be in good shape. We're going to have to address his academics for him to have a successful future, but trust me, this kid will be outstanding on the next level."


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