A sixth-round selection out of Tuskegee, the talkative and congenial Walker offered a blunt opinion of what he considers to be "the only difference" between himself and fellow rookie cornerback Rod Babers, Big Blue's fourth-round pick from the University of Texas.
"I came from a school with 3,000 students, and he came from a school with 30,000," noted Walker, a 5-10, 193-pounder. "The Giants got a steal in me." Although Walker believes he has the talent for a starting role, the Giants plan to give him a look as a nickel back to replace the departed Jason Sehorn. His 4.33 speed also offers him the intriguing possibility of returning kickoffs.
In his senior season at Tuskegee, Walker had three pass interceptions and 13 pass deflections. During his career at the nationally renowned, traditionally black college, he recorded a total of six interceptions – helping to lead the team to a 42-5 record, three conference championships and the 2000 national HBCU title.
Walker was one-half of Tuskegee's starting cornerback duo with Drayton Florence – a second-round pick of the San Diego Chargers – and he is an acquaintance of Giants rookie defensive end Osi Umenyiora, Big Blue's second-round selection from Troy State.
"I worked out at Troy State with Osi," he said. "When the coaching staff saw me working out there they wanted me to transfer."
"Osi's real fast for a defensive end – but he's also real humble," Walker added. "You know how corners – guys like me – will tell you what's on their mind? Osi's not like that."
A Tuskegee, Ala. native, Walker decided to stay at home to attend college – even though a number of other black colleges recruited him for academic and athletic scholarships. He was originally offered a full ride to play at nearby Auburn, but the departure of head coach Tommy Bowden altered that plan.
"Mississippi State offered me a partial scholarship – but I turned it down," he said. "I didn't want my mama paying anything for my education."
Walker comes from an interesting family. His uncle, Cedric Walker, is the founder of The UniverSoul Big Top Circus, an internationally acclaimed African-American circus. Walker's aunt, Gayle Watkins, is the coach for Team Nike USA.
Although Walker could be described as outspoken and cocky, he is also intelligent, family-oriented and disinterested in wild nights on the town. A mechanical engineering major, he plans to complete his degree in the not-too-distant future. "I don't smoke or drink – but I tried it in the eighth grade," he said. "I see some guys today, and they go into a club with $150 and come out with no money. That's not for me."
Not surprisingly, Walker said that "having conversations" is his favorite form of recreation. If he makes the Giants' roster, he's certain to instigate more than a few with opposing wide receivers.
Strong for his size and a tough run-stuffer, Walker was clocked at 4.33 during on-campus Pro Day. Some questions, however, have been raised about his size. "Everybody says he's small, but he doesn't play small," Giants Head Coach Jim Fassel said of Walker. He displays good transition coming out of his backpedal in coverage, and has sharp anticipatory skills for passes in the zone.
Where he fits in
Walker would offer the Big Blue defense a vast upgrade in speed at the nickel back position, and he could emerge as a valuable backup to starting cornerbacks Will Allen and Will Peterson. His fleetness definitely warrants a chance to see how he fares returning kickoffs and/or punts.
"Frank Walker is a kid who's a little taller than Babers. But he's much faster than Babers. We timed him at 4.40. Again he had a low level of competition and he's raw. But the common denominator is speed. We're looking forward to him also competing at that nickel spot and playing on special teams." – Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reese