Walker plays key role for JCJC defense

ELLISVILLE – One of the biggest plays in Jones County Junior College's 28-24 victory over Co-Lin Community College did not happen by accident.

"It's something we practice every day," said JCJC defensive end Tyrunn Walker of a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown last week and helped the Bobcats win not only its first game of the season, but also its South Division opener.

The Bobcats and Wolves were tied 7-7 early in the second quarter when Co-Lin lined up for a 46-yard field goal attempt. West Jones' sophomore linebacker Marcus Pierce blocked the attempt and it was picked up by Laurel sophomore DeAntrae McInnis, who took it 55 yards for a touchdown.

Even though Walker did not receive credit for the block, he crashed the Co-Lin protection unit and allowed Marcus Pierce to come through and make the block. He credits head coach Eddie Pierce, defensive coordinator Steve Boyd and linebacker coach Picasso Nelson with pushing him to make a big play on special teams.

"Coach Pierce, Coach Boyd and Coach Nelson are always fussing about it," he said. "They said if we are going to block it, it starts with me and I have to make it happen. I got in my gap and just pushed. When I get a good push, the whole line has to come down and it makes the edge shorter for Marcus and Ramon (Blakeney) to get the block. That's what we have been talking about.

"At every practice, we say, ‘If we block it, DeAntrae, you scoop it and score.' And that's what happened."

Walker ended the game with five solo tackles and two assists. That gives him 10 total tackles and six assists on the year.

He was pleased with his play, but he was happier to see the Bobcats get the victory.

"I played all right," he said. "I did a better job of leading in that game. It was a much-needed victory. We needed to get one in the win column and it was good to win the home and division opener.

"Our team is very excited about the season and we are really coming together as a team. I can see it coming. We are going to be a tough team to reckon with throughout the rest of the season."

Walker is a 6-foot-4, 270-pound product out of Westgate High School in New Iberia, La. He was unsure about what he wanted to do out of high school, but is quite pleased to have made the decision to attend Jones.

"I guess you would say I was a late recruit," he said. "I did not know what I wanted to do. All of a sudden some calls were made and Jones was there for me. It was a good choice for me to come to junior college instead of sitting out a year at a Division I school.

"As I look at it, it's probably one of the best choices I've ever made, just being with these guys and to be coached by some of these great coaches at Jones. I have no regrets at all about coming to Jones."

Walker loves being in the middle of the action at his defensive end slot, where Bobcat head coach Eddie Pierce, who is also the team's defensive line coach, coaches him. He says that's the position he played in high school.

"It's pretty good," he said. "That's the position I grew up playing. I get a chance to work with guys like (freshman end) Ryan Robinson and just the whole defensive line. Coach Pierce is coaching us great and staying on us. He makes sure we have a good work ethic.

"You can't get anything by him and that's a good coach to have."

It's a 260-mile drive from New Iberia to JCJC, but Walker is used to it. He says Jones is where he needs to be right now.

"It's been pretty good for me over here," he said. "Jones is like another home to me."

Walker, who is majoring in business administration, is on line to graduate in December and enroll at a senior college in January. He has received quite a bit of interest from senior colleges, but he will hold off on making that decision for a while.

"I have a couple of offers and I am being recruited heavily," he said. "But I am trying not to worry about that right now. I am trying to focus on the Jones' season. This is the step I have to take in order to get to a senior college and I can't get sidetracked.

"I am just trying to help us win games." The Bobcats got off to a tough start in 2009, falling 21-7 at Itawamba and 28-17 at No. 2-nationally ranked East Mississippi. However, the victory over Co-Lin could be the spark the team needs to make a strong run throughout the remainder of the season and, hopefully, into the playoffs.

Walker is optimistic about that happening. "I think we can win these last six games and go to the playoffs," he said. "That's my prediction. We've got to do what we need to do. We have to play hard, play together and nobody can stop us."

The Bobcats, 1-2 overall and 1-0 in the division, head to Decatur to take on the East Central Warriors at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. East Central also owns a 1-2 overall mark and is 0-1 in the division.

Walker said the Bobcats will not take the Warriors lightly.

"We will not overlook any team, even if we were playing Laurel High School," he said. "You have to go in with the mindset that you have to do your job. You have to focus and not underestimate any team because that will be the team that beats you."

The Bobcats will return home next week, hosting Hinds at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24. Walker looks forward to returning to Bobcat Stadium/Sim Cooley Field, pointing to the crowd at last week's home win over Co-Lin.

"It's a great experience playing at home, especially for our younger players," he said. "They were more comfortable, I think. But it was great for the sophomores because we got our first win. I think winning that game will turn our season around.

"The fans, the atmosphere and the students all played a big part in helping us."

Thursday's game at East Central will air on www.jcjc.tv and WGDQ-FM, 93.1. Lance Pittman will be calling the play-by-play and Mark Easley will provide color commentary.

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