“Pay the man!”
This is what most fans around the league were saying after Delanie Walker finished this past season with his 3rd straight pro-bowl appearance. Oh ya, he also helped lead the Titans to their first playoff appearance this decade!
Even before he recently got his contract extension, people had respected Walker as one of the best tight ends in the league. From pass catching to returning kicks, Tennessee has thrown him on the field anywhere possible. But who can blame them?
The guy can flat out play.
So where did this all-around athlete come from? Growing up in Southern California, one would naturally think he went to USC or UCLA. Or maybe, Chip Kelly got him up to Oregon?
Nope, Delanie Walker was far from a blue chip recruit. He’s a grad of….you guessed it.
The University of Central Missouri.
High School: Pomona High School (Pomona, CA)
Weight: 210 Lbs
Recruiting Ranking: 0 Stars
Recruiters are pretty straightforward. “If you have the size and know how to play, we will find you.”
Well, maybe they were on vacation during Walker’s recruitment.
For a guy that was all conference in back to back years, there doesn’t seem like there was much more for the kid to do growing up. I think part of the problem was the fact that he didn’t “fit” the exact model for tight ends recruiters look for.
Yes, he could ball. But often recruiters are looking for guys that fit the 6’3, 225 pounds stature. At 6 foot and just over 200 pounds, Walker fit more as a receiver size than anything else.
But he wasn’t out there running a 4’4 either, so instead of finding a spot for this guy, they passed on him instead.
Sounds like a few studs we know……
Anyways, that wasn’t going to stop Walker. He received one offer out of school to the University of Texas-El Paso but decided to stay home and attend JUCO, hoping to improve his stock.
Heading down the road from his home in So-Cal, Walker arrived at Mt. San Antonio Community College (CA) in 2003. He quickly made the team but ran into some of the same troubles he had in high school.
Well, troubles may be the wrong word……
He was just so talented and so versatile, the coach wanted him to play a little bit of everything. Returning kicks, blocking at fullback, and catching passes, he didn’t have an exact role that could be listed in the team program.
But trust this, if you can ball, no matter the position, someone is going to find you.
Before long, the University of Central Missouri was willing to take a flyer on him. Yes, they still didn’t have a position for him, but the coaching staff just needed ballers who wanted to get on the field.
Now, this was and still is, Walker’s specialty.
Although it was a small school, Walker still found a way to shine and get national attention. Breaking the school record in kickoff returns, rushing the ball, and becoming one of their top pass catchers, Walker was their “Mr. Everything.”
When it came to graduate, the same thing that hurt him in high school recruiting, had the opposite effect on NFL scouts.
So with the 6th round selection, the San Francisco 49er’s selected Walker, knowing they had the steal of the draft. And after helping lead them to the Superbowl with Colin Kaepernick, I think its fair to agree.
Now 33, Walker hasn’t started to slow down. With three straight pro-bowls, he’s looking to help Marriota and the Titans return to the playoffs.
So if you can’t find your exact position, just remember its more important to get on the field first. Kickoffs, punt team, whatever it takes to show people you can ball!
Just ask our guy Delanie.