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The Cardinal Countdown: 20 Days Until Kickoff

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#20 Ronald Walker

Class: Junior

Ht/Wt: 6-1/198

Position: Cornerback

Hometown: Byran, MS

Twitter: @RonaldWalkers

Thoughts: Walker was an early enrollee back in January and even though his signing was a big boost to the secondary he went somewhat unnoticed in the Spring due to his inexperience with the program, schemes, etc and was relegated to mostly 3rd teams reps. Early this summer I kept hearing Walker’s name come up more and more and honesty I had to go check the roster to find out more about him. Seeing his "measurables" alone (6-1/198) for a young man playing corner raised my eyebrows for sure, then I watched some tape and came away impressed with his ability to maintain coverage on smaller and faster wideouts. Obviously his large frame and wingspan are a big help. Walker was the #4 JUCO corner in the country last season and for those ‘Last Chance U’ Netflix watchers, Walker is a former Co-Lin athlete who helped end the 25 game East Mississippi CC winning streak. While I think most teams would love to have a 6-1 or 6-2 guy on the outside the question is always are they smart enough and athletic enough to both learn the position and play the position. For Walker, all signs point to “yes” on both accounts.

One of the “principles” of the Grantham defense is that he loves to put his corners in  press coverage if the situation allows. In the college game, if my corner can legally push, nudge, bump, and redirect a wideout off of his route…why would we not do that? The answer is that not all corners or safeties can play that style. They give a nudge, the wideout deflects or quickly recovers and before the corner knows what happened you have a guy streaking down the sideline wide open. Walker may not be the fastest, may not have the quickest feet, but no one is denying his physicality. Heyward has mentioned Walker in the Spring, over the summer, and now early in Fall camp as one of the three or four players that always brings the heat and makes his presence known. He has shown on numerous occasions that he can not only play that press coverage, but seems to prefer it. That effort, and his knowledge of the system, is now translating to Walker sliding up the depth chart.

As we’ve discussed throughout the countdown I think it’s fairly evident that Heyward and Grantham plan to have a carousel of corners (I’m gonna trademark that) that rotate during the season. Unless a couple guys really start to standout I’d expect 4 or 5 players to alternate based upon certain formations and matchups, and if you thought the “every job is open” rhetoric was all coach speak, we’re less than three weeks from kickoff and Jaire Alexander appears to have officially taken the starting spot from Shaq Wiggins. Opposite Jaire it appears Tru will keep his starting gig for the time being but Ronald, Shaq, Cannon, and newcomer Lamarques Thomas will all be in the mix as the weeks roll on.

Walker still has two years of eligibility left, and while I HATE the whole ‘best case/worst case’ game I’d say in a perfect world I’d love to see Walker be a solid contributor in 2016 and position himself to be a team leader on defense in 2017. He has the size, he has the athleticism, and he without a doubt he has the ‘nastiness’ of some of the former Cardinal’s secondary who are now playing on Sundays. Excited to watch him play.

Sweet Tweet:

Pumped to have Walker on board...but, thinking Petrino might want to take a flyer on the young man behind Walker and go ahead and offer a scholly. Kid looks like he would not hesitate to put a helmet in your earhole.