January 11, 2007

Walker's decision: More questions than answers


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I'm confused.

I know, that's my normal state, but I'm more confused than normal.

Darius Walker announced his decision to bypass his final year of eligibility to enter his name in the NFL draft. I had a lot of questions going into his press conference.

I have even more now that it's over.

His prospects may never be brighter than they are now. He played perhaps his most impressive 30 minutes of football against a noteworthy opponent in the Sugar Bowl. He's put up noteworthy numbers during his Notre Dame career.

This much is understood. Strike while the iron is hot.

But there are questions, many questions, as to why a player with a chance to become Notre Dame's all-time leading rusher and, more importantly, a chance to improve his game to a professional level, would leave with approximately 27 hours of classroom work before earning his undergraduate degree.

It doesn't all add up. Or maybe it all adds up and we're just not being presented with all the reasons behind the decision. That seems a bit more like it.

Question No. 1: Did Walker have reason to believe that he might have to share some of the ball carrying duties with his teammates next year?

With speculation that Travis Thomas might/wants to return to halfback, the expected development of James Aldridge, the evolution of speedy Munir Prince, and the arrival of freshman Armando Allen this spring, there was the very realistic chance that Walker might not get the 311 touches that he received in 13 games in 2006.

So I asked him, "Were there concerns or indications that you might have to share the ball carrying responsibilities next year?"

All three of the Walkers-parents Jimmy and LaVerne, as well as Darius-laughed out loud. Apparently, it is laughable that any other running back on the 2007 roster would be good enough or competitive enough to take carries away from Walker.

"I see where you're trying to go," said Walker amidst his laughter. "No, no, that was something that I didn't even really think about. It's something that never occurred to me, nor did I have any discussions about something like that."

Walker has a point. Charlie Weis has shown little inclination to use more than one back in his first two years at Notre Dame. Walker also had 296 touches in 2005.

No wonder the Walkers laughed. What a preposterous question.

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