Walker Relishing New Role

Walker Relishing New Role

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Brian Walker emerged as a reliable option in the secondary in his first season in Chapel Hill. The sophomore is now intent on thriving in a full-time starting role at the cornerback position for North Carolina this fall.

One key attribute about Walker sums up why he's a pure cornerback: he wants to be 1-on-1 with opposing receivers.

"I played a lot of man in high school and that's what they brought me in to do to just try and play a lot of man-to-man," Walker said. "That's what I like to do. I like to disrupt the receiver because routes are all about timing so if you can disrupt the timing then you pretty much won the battle. I love to play man and that's my main thing."

The sophomore from Charlotte appeared in all 12 games last season for the Tar Heels, showing glimpses of future promise with four pass breakups against Old Dominion and a pivotal interception against N.C. State.

Walker totaled 19 tackles on the year and gained the necessary experience to build on heading into a season where he'll be depended on without the presence of Jabari Price and Tre Boston.

Price was key in getting him ready to play from day one, according to Walker.

"[Price is] a real good leader," Walker said. "When I first came in, he told me the coverages and pretty much gave me a play-by-play of how college ball was and what to expect going against some of the receivers in the ACC and just receivers in college in general…

"He was physical, he took leadership and he wasn't afraid to guard a number one receiver. That really gave me an outlook on what to expect."

Walker has spent his offseason working on his technique and strength to get prepared for the 2014 season. He constantly focuses on getting better with his hand placement and footwork because he believes that talent isn't enough to produce consistently as a corner.

"I definitely want to get stronger," Walker said. "I think that's the main thing that you always have to try to do. It's just getting stronger and working on technique. You can never get out your technique, you always have to work on that. You've got to try and perfect it because you're always going to meet that one receiver that has an edge on you. Talent kind of goes out the window against certain people so technique is all you have at the end of the day."

Technique is an art that just doesn't happen overnight and Walker works on his constantly. He's attended camps with former Tar Heel great Dre Bly and used other settings to better his game.

"Technique is what I try to work on a frequent basis, whether it be footwork or just the little things," Walker said. "That's what matters toward the end of the game in the fourth quarter and things like that. I worked on it myself. I've worked with Dre Bly a couple of times with a bunch of people at one of his little camps so that was good experience."

The secondary seems to be set early on in spring practice. Walker expects the same four running with the first team now will be on the field to start training camp later this summer.

"As far as I know for right now, it's me, Desmond Lawrence, Tim Scott and (Dominique) Green," Walker said. "I like that me, Green and Des are all young so a lot of people don't know what to expect because we had one okay year, but this year I think, that'll be a big thing. Tim has the most experience knowing that he's been playing since his freshman year."

The other young corner on the field, Lawrence, has been on the same path as Walker and the two Charlotte natives have a great relationship .

"That's my boy," Walker said. "We were real cool in high school. We lived like 15 minutes away from each other. We went to camps and met each other and then coming here we went through the same process as far as learning from Jabari. I think we're on the same page on everything.

"We're both out there at the same time now. We know what to expect from certain receivers so I think this year is going to be a breakout year for us both."

 

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