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Casey Walker Q&A
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Reserve D-Lineman Making Most His Opportunity
Gerald McCoy and Adrian Taylor anchor Oklahoma’s defensive tackle position in what is considered one of the top defensive lines in the country. But McCoy and Taylor can’t play every down and that’s why the development of youngsters like Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland has been critical in terms of quality depth in the trenches.
Sooner Spectator sat down recently with Walker, a 6-foot, 300-pound redshirt-freshman from Garland, Texas, to discuss his emergence on the defensive line and what he has brought to the position through the first few games.
Sooner Spectator: After redshirting last year, what has it been like to earn the coaching staff’s trust enough to become a part of the rotation?
Casey Walker: Oh, yeah. It’s pretty good having the coaches’ trust to be able to get out and perform to the best of my abilities, and show them what I can do to help the team and come out with some wins.
SS: Is playing for a guy like Jackie Shipp a different experience than anything you’ve ever gone through in your football career?
Walker: Oh, it’s very different. He’s real good at what he does and what he preaches on, which is technique. When we do our technique correctly, things happen and we make plays.
SS: What was it like for you last year? It had to be good to watch guys like Gerald McCoy in practice every day and to learn from him on a regular basis?
Walker: It was a big-time experience. I learned a lot from (Gerald) just watching from the sideline or even on TV. He’s an All-American and Adrian Taylor is just as good — I watched both of them and whatever they do correctly, I try to mimic that so I can do it correctly.
SS: Is it pretty cool for you when you go out on the field in critical situations and you find yourself side-by-side Gerald McCoy?
Walker: Oh yeah, it’s big-time.
SS: Does he make it easier for you when you are out there with him or does that add even more pressure knowing you are going to be counted on to make plays while he’s being double-teamed?
Walker: It’s not much easier. Everybody’s got to hold up their own part of the deal. He plays his technique and I play mine. It’s always cool playing next to him.
SS: What’s been the biggest hurdle to overcome so you can get to a place where you can consistently make an impact at the college level?
Walker: The biggest hurdle was coming in as a freshmen and you don’t know any football anymore. From high school, you come here and it’s from square one. The biggest thing was trying to get my technique down and to play to Coach Shipp’s expectations.
SS: Was there ever any talk by the coaches or from the group that some of you younger guys had to step up and be able to provide some depth at defensive tackle?
Walker: Not really. Everybody has their part, but they can’t play the whole game. I had to step up and help out and give those guys a breather.
SS: Do you feel like you have made the transition completely or is it still kind of a struggle at times right now?
Walker: I go out and I do pretty good, but I have to work at it. It’s my first year playing and I know I’m not going to make the big plays yet. But as I keep playing more and more, I start getting a feel for everything so I can be that Gerald McCoy or Adrian Taylor.
SS: Is there a little bit of excitement now that you are playing and you’re starting to play more against teams like Miami, Texas and Nebraska?
Walker: We’re going to come out there and give it everything we’ve got. We’re going to try and be what everyone tries to make us out to be. We’re going to step up to the plate and show everybody what we can do and what we can be.
SS: Is it also kind of exciting to see another young guy like Jamarkus McFarland who can step up and help out the defensive tackle position as well?
Walker: Oh yeah, it’s big-time. Coming in as a true freshmen, that means something. Plus, we need all the help we can. He’s going to be real good.
(Editor's Note: This interview appears in the Oct. 16 issue of Sooner Spectator. To subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877 or go to our on-line store.)