June 19, 2012
Walker chases new life
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
HAMILTON - As fast as Chevon Walker is when running with the football, he can’t outrun his past.
To his credit, he’s learned from his missteps and has embraced a new philosophy and approach the moment the Ticats presented Walker with a new lease on his football life.
“If I didn’t learn from them I wouldn’t be here,” began Walker on Monday as the grind of training camp continued. “We’ve all been young and made some mistakes. As the days go by, as the years go by, I’m learning and I’m continuing to learn.”
Walker was born in Jamaica, moved to the Florida at age 10 and didn’t pick up football until he enrolled at Riverdale High School in Fort Myers.
At one point, he was the No. 5-rated running back prospect in the United States at the high school level and was recruited by Florida, where Walker would sparingly play.
He would land in Eastern Illinois where Walker would land in trouble, prompting the program to kick him off the team, before turning to the NAIA system.
“I made some wrong decisions,” he admitted. “I was immature and was hanging around the wrong people and doing things I shouldn’t have been doing. I was getting myself in the wrong situations.”
Now 25 and grateful for an opportunity, Walker is making the most of it.
His struggles as a youth now serve as perspective and gives Walker plenty of ammunition to learn from his poor decision making.
By no means is Walker a bad guy, but all accounts a kid who has learned from his past and has embraced every moment in Tiger Town as though it’s his last.
“Every day, every rep, all I want to do is get better,” he said. “I just love being around the older guys who are always giving me encouragement. ‘Hey Chevy, you’re doing a good job.’
“When I hear that, it makes me want to go even harder.”
In Walker’s world, there’s only one speed — fast.
The Ticats were drawn to his skills when Walker auditioned at a camp held in Lakeland, Fla., after the Argos caught a glimpse.
“I’ll never let up,’’ Walker said. “I’m always on the gas, never in neutral. I just keep going.”
Soccer was his sport growing up in Jamaica, a discipline that provides Walker with the necessary foot work when running with the pigskin.
He ran track and even qualified for the SEC championships in the 100.
“Very explosive,’’ Ticats head coach George Cortez said when asked to assess Walker. “He’s shown some good things.”
Walker hasn’t entirely grasped Cortez’s offence, but he’s making strides and is practising with the team’s first-team offence.
For a guy who hasn’t played football for roughly a year and a half, Walker has certainly made an impression.
“It’s going to take time, but eventually I’ll be up to speed,’’ said Walker.
“It’s a blessing to be here and it’s all a learning process. I love this offence and I feel it fits me. No matter what it takes or how long it takes, I want to be here.
“You realize anything can happen and you got to be ready when your name is called.”
Walker was moved up the depth charts when Martell Mallett, who was projected to start at tailback, tore his Achilles tendon during practice and underwent season-ending surgery.
Avon Cobourne was summoned back to The Hammer, but Walker, for now, has the edge.
“This is a big opportunity,’’ said Walker, who has family living in Toronto. “I’m rolling with the ones, but I’m not taking anything for granted.”
Given his past, Walker knows he can’t afford it.