Tracy Walker Before Ragin’ Cajuns 2016 Season [VIDEO]
Tracy Walker is going to be a key piece of the Ragin' Cajuns defense, but you might not see him line up in the same place two snaps in a row.
In Defensive Coordinator Melvin Smith's defense, Walker will play a hybrid linebacker/safety position. It will put him closer to the line of scrimmage, which is a move Walker is buying into.
"I like that I’m closer to the box because I can just come up and make plays," Walker said. He has a new position, but he's bringing the same mind set. “I would still consider myself a defensive back that just plays linebacker.”
Head Coach Mark Hudspeth raved about the difference in the Ragin' Cajuns offseason strength and conditioning program, and Walker is a walking example of the results. He beefed up to around 225 lbs, and he looks like a completely different player.
It was protein and weights all summer long for Walker, and it shows.
"I had to put on some weight, and I had to adjust to fighting O-linemen, and trying to adjust to being accountable and being on that line, just dealing with running the fronts, so that was tough for me," Walker said about his metamorphosis.
If he's playing the "buck" position in Smith's defense, that means he will be rushing the passer a lot more. He's going from dealing with wide receivers and tight ends to offensive linemen and running backs, which is a totally different game. His body looks ready, but will his mind be prepared for the adjustment when the season starts?
Walker almost played like a linebacker last year, coming in at second on the team with 74 total tackles and five tackles for loss. He forced two turnovers as a DB, and if his logic is correct, he will be in position to make a lot more happen closer to the action up front.
In terms of the defensive backfield, his absence won't mean the end of times. Nothing against Walker, but the DB's should be fine.
Simeon Thomas (6'3", 200 lbs) and Savion Brown (6'2", 220 lbs) are monstrous corners, and Walker isn't worried about the secondary around him.
As a leader, it's his job to keep his finger on the pulse of the defense. Heading into year two of Coach Smith's scheme, Walker senses a difference in his brothers.
“The defense as a whole got a lot closer,” Walker said. He explained the new chemistry easily, “I know where Savion’s going to be. I don’t have to worry about him on his side. Simeon, I don’t have to worry about him, so everybody has their own specific job.”
Last year, the Ragin' Cajuns defense only came up with 11 turnovers. This year, the goal is to create takeaways, by any means possible. Moving Walker up to force more fumbles, pick off short passes and create havoc in the backfield makes a ton of sense. The only question is if he can click into his new role soon enough.
He comes into the 2016 season as a junior with 20 starts under his belt. People are looking at him to replace Dominique Tovell's production, which is a heavy load to carry. Veteran leaders on and off the field are required to win championships, and Walker is one of the main men leading the charge.
Walker and his teammates want to return to their winning ways and remind the Sun Belt who they are and how they play. He did the work getting his body ready, now it's time for his game to do the talking.