If your favorite NFL team is looking for a boost on special teams while adding a quality piece to their wide receiver room, they need to get familiar with Boston College’s Michael Walker.
Walker leaves the Eagles after compiling more than 3,000 yards in the air as both a kick and punt returner. Walker also added nearly 1,000 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns as a receiver.
Walker spoke exclusively to MCM about how a tragic injury to his older brother Brian serves as his motivation, how he attacks man coverage differently from zone, and what he loves about being a return man.
JM: For our readers who are still getting familiar with Michael Walker, how would you describe your skill set?
MW: There’s a lot more to my game than just being a return man. I obviously have speed to burn. I play with a lot of agility as well. I also have the route running ability to be successful at the next level.
JM: You grew up in a bit of a baseball family. Your uncle Pete Walker played 11 years as a pro and is now the pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. Your uncle Andrew played college baseball as well. How did you end up playing football?
MW: I played both sports growing up. I was lucky enough to have a lot of influence from my family. My dad played baseball as well. My brother Brian was a big football player. He actually ended up breaking his neck in high school. That was a big deal for my family. It gave me some extra drive and motivation. I wanted to see this out for him, I wanted to play football for him. That’s how it all ended up happening.
JM: Wow. He must be enjoying this process as much you are right now.
MW: Oh yeah, for sure. He would definitely be doing the same thing that I’m doing right now. He just didn’t get his shot. It’s pretty cool.
JM: This is a special process for you then. Earlier you mentioned having the ability to run great routes. Do you have a favorite route to run?
MW: I’m fine running anything that my coaches want me to run. I wouldn’t say there’s one particular route that I like to run more than another route.
JM: How do you attack man coverage versus zone?
MW: If I’m going up against someone that plays man coverage, it depends if it’s press man or off man. If it’s press man, you want to get up on his toes so you can create separation. With off man, it’s a similar situation. You wanna get up on his toes and do something subtle. If you’re subtle with your movements, you can create the separation you’re looking for.
With zone, it’s more about reading the defense and identifying where the holes are. They’re gonna leave some gaps available to you when playing zone.
JM: You’re more than a return man, but you’re pretty electrifying back there. What do you enjoy about being a return man?
MW: I love both, punt returning and kick returning. I love having the opportunity to get the ball in my hands. It’s all about making a big play for your team. I just love the thrill I get from being apart of special teams. It also allows me to get on the field as much as I can. It’s a lot of fun being able to do that.
JM: Is there one combine drill in particular that you’re looking forward to participating in?
MW: I’ve always loved the 5-10-5 drill. That’s always been one of my favorite drills and I’ve always tested well doing that.
JM: Boston College’s strength and conditioning coach Frank Piraino recently accepted the same role with the Tennessee Titans. What kinda guy are the Titans getting in Piraino?
MW: I was pretty close with coach Piraino. He’s a great guy aside from what he knows from a strength and conditioning standpoint. He’s a top shelf coach when it comes to that but there’s more to him than that. He’s a great guy and he really took the time to get to know all of us on a personal level. It was cool to learn and work under him. I was honored to work in that system with coach Piraino.
JM: I really appreciated your time tonight, Michael. In closing, what can Boston College fans expect from Michael Walker going forward?
MW: They can expect me to do the same thing at the next level. I’m gonna keep doing my thing. They can expect me to be a success story. I’m just excited for the future and what’s to come.