Travon Walker’s game-winning sack of Bo Nix during the 2019 season ended up being one of the most remembered moments of that year for Georgia football.
Walker himself was a highlight as a true freshman, recording 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks in 12 games that year for the Dawgs. He was named to the Freshman All-SEC team by the coaches.
After a standout year as a freshman, it is safe to say that Georgia fans expected big things from Walker heading into the 2020 season. However, instead of having a breakout season, Walker found himself having a similar production level as he did the year before.
As a freshman, Walker took the majority of his snaps as a rotation player along the interior of Georgia’s defensive front. While not taking the majority of his snaps there in high school, the Thomaston, Ga native took to the role with ease. During the 2020 season, Walker moved from playing inside to defensive end, spelling starter Malik Herring.
The move was beneficial to Georgia in a number of ways. This change allowed the coaching staff to take advantage of the powerful combination of Walker’s 6’5” 275-pound frame, his freakish athleticism, and to get freshman standout, Jalen Carter, more playing time.
The move wasn’t without some growing pains for Walker. He only had 13 tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack through nine games during last year’s Covid shortened season. While he was more productive per game, Walker did not exceed Georgia fans’ lofty expectations for his sophomore season. That doesn’t mean that 2020 was a down year for Tavon Walker, quite the opposite. It set him up for even greater success this upcoming year.
Travon Walker’s size and athleticism are exceptional, but it takes more than size and speed to make a player great. It takes time to learn the myriad skills needed to be an effective defensive end and even more reps to gain confidence in using them. Without the benefit of spring practice a year ago, Walker was learning a new position on the fly and doing so well. He even had one of the more impressive plays of the year, a perfectly executed coverage of Auburn’s Tank Bigsby.
The experience he gained last year, coupled with a full spring and offseason, will give Walker the time he needs to get comfortable playing the position.
Walker will also be without another hindrance to his game this year; he will no longer be a backup. While it might seem nonsensical that just being named the starter can make you a better player, it is true for players like Travon Walker. Some players need time in the game to develop a rhythm, and as a backup, Walker wasn’t able to do that. Becoming the starter will give him the chance to feel the game’s flow and make the impact plays Dawgs fans have come to expect from him.
In Georgia's spring game, Bulldog fans got a glimpse at just how disruptive the budding star could become this season for the Dawgs.
He pressured the quarterback several times from the defensive end position using a variety of pass-rushing moves from the bull rush, to advanced hand fighting skills, and even a bit of speed of the edge. This season is setting up to be the year Walker lives up to those lofty expectations.
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