Game Day Feature: Walker Smiling All the Way to End Zone
By Steve Shaff, NAU Media Relations
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - When Offensive Coordinator Rich Scangarello came to the Northern Arizona football program last spring, he struggled with how to use Dejzon Walker. He has it figured out now based on Walker's recent performance.
"I have been getting a feel for his skill set," said Scangarello. "He is a special guy. He has tight end skills, inside receiver skills and can also play on the perimeter. I feel like he can be the most dominant player on the field. He is tough for matchups because he's too big for safeties and too fast for linebackers."
Walker has caught at least two passes in all nine games played this season, increasing his production over the last month with five straight games with three or more receptions. He caught his first touchdown of the season at North Dakota, producing a game-tying score late in the third quarter in the Lumberjack win. Against Northern Colorado, he had the biggest play on the game-winning drive with a 21-yard reception with under a minute left to set up the winning field goal.
"The offense was not clicking the whole game and could not get anything going", recalls Walker of the catch. "We needed something in the fourth quarter. Coach gave me the call in man coverage and Cary gave me a chance to catch the ball and I caught it."
Last week, he opened the game with a 50-yard reception and caught his second touchdown.
Walker, who is 6-3 and 225 pounds, has been catching a lot of balls this season – a team-best 28 entering the week. A 2011 graduate of Basha High School, Walker recorded 1,500 receiving yards with 19 touchdowns in his career. He caught 43 passes for 680 yards and 12 touchdowns for a 9-2 Basha team during his senior season and set school records for receiving yards in a game (195) and career touchdowns (19).
He came into NAU as a tight end but has evolved into a versatile threat at three positions.
"I consider myself an offensive specialist," said Walker. "I can do a lot of different things. Whatever the coaches need me to do to get the offense where we need to be is where I am going to play."
Scangarello likes to line Walker up to take advantage of his skills and setup favorable matchups.
"In the slot you have to take safeties one-on-one and when the ball is in the air you have to own it," said Scangarello. "Nobody does that better than him. He has a great pair of hands and is a confident ball catcher. He has made every play we have asked to make."
Walker had a successful initial season as a true freshman. He was named the Offensive Newcomer of the Year and College Sports Madness Big Sky Freshman of the Year. He recorded 22 catches for 328 yards with three touchdowns while recording at least one catch in 10 of 11 games.
"I had to build off what I did last year," said Walker. "I have learned things from each coach I have been with and keep working hard at my game."
Walker has become one of the leaders on the team, constantly showcasing his trademark smile.
"I want to be a leader on the team and have people look up to me," said Walker, who credits his grandmother with his positive outlook. "They see I have a smile on my face and they know everything is going to be alright. Let's pick our heads up and get going."
Walker, who is majoring in communications studies with a minor in advertising, hopes to be a sports broadcaster someday. But for now, he will leave the game-calling to Mitch Strohman and he will play out his role in 2012. Look for him in an end zone near you.