March 27, 2012
Stamps roll out welcome Matt
By WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Matt Walter will soon graduate with a degree in petroleum land management.
It’s a great long-term tool, but the University of Calgary Dinos’ all-time rushing leader plans to pursue a career on turf first.
On Monday, the homegrown running back officially inked a deal with the Calgary Stampeders, getting a second crack at earning a full-time job with the organization that drafted him last spring.
“Football is really my life. I know it sounds cliche, but when you’re at it for this long and it’s this important to you, it really consumes you,” Walter said. “I feel like this is really the culmination of everything I’ve done football-wise. And it’s also a new beginning. It could be a long career, and I’m just looking forward to it. The other things can wait.”
Walter had to wait an extra year for his opportunity to earn a full-time paycheque on the football field.
He was drafted by the Stamps in the fifth round of the 2011 CFL Canadian Draft but was released after training camp and instructed to fine-tune his special-teams skills in his fifth and final season of post-secondary eligibility.
With B.C.-born Jon Cornish now the Stamps’ starting running back, the team will need an insurance policy with a Canadian passport, so Walter will get a long look from the Red & White.
“I was impressed with Matt’s skill and competitiveness last year at training camp and look forward to his continued improvement in his attempt to become a Calgary Stampeder,” said Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel in Monday’s announcement. “Matt showed during his university career that he can be a dominant running back.”
Walter had a memorable final campaign at U of C, setting a new standard for Dinos running backs with 4,014 all-time ground yards. He also owns the school record with 35 all-purpose touchdowns and 29 rushing majors.
During his tenure with the Dinos, the Bishop O’ Byrne graduate was named a Canada West all-star three times.
Walter also had an opportunity to represent Canada at the 2011 world football championship in Austria, scoring six touchdowns in three games as the Canadian squad settled for silver. He was named to the all-tournament team, as well.
Now, the 22-year-old is hungry to prove he’s capable of playing at the professional level.
“I’ve never been more ready in my life — now’s the time,” Walter said. “For the longest time in university, it was always, ‘I’m going to play pro one day. I’ve just gotta work on this and work on that.’ It’s time now to show what I’ve got. I’ve had a long off-season to think about everything I have to work on. I’ve got a sign saying ‘Make the team’ posted to my fridge, so I have that to look at every morning.
“It’s something to keep my mind completely focused on what needs to be done. I’ve gotta do this — that’s what I keep telling myself. Not only am I excited to get an opportunity again, but I want to go out and make a big impact.
“I’m excited to show what I can do.”
On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson