The rarest of the rare: defensive tackles that can rush the passer. Few defensive tackles provide run-stopping ability to be a stalwart, while also providing the quickness and pass rush moves to pressure the opposing signal caller. That’s why so many schools already offered the following defensive tackle a scholarship.
Vitals: 6’4”, 285-pounds,
School: Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola
Recruiting: offers from numerous programs including UCF, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina State, Penn State, Texas, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Washington and Southern California.
Frame: Walker possesses the wide-bodied shoulders one would expect of an interior defensive tackle, and he’s extremely well proportioned. Wide shoulders, broad and powerful chest, and appropriate legs and hips to match his upper torso. His wingspan is also exceptional, providing additional space to take on blockers.
Athleticism: A powerful off-the-snap striker, Walker’s hands dislodge many offensive linemen similar or even bigger than himself. Walker’s “heavy hands” are probably his best asset when rushing the passer, and his first-step takeoff aids his powerful blows because he inflicts a blow before many offensive linemen will be ready. Also of note, Walker’s ability to bend (see below video clip) separates him from most defensive tackles. Rare to find a player his size with that type of maneuverability.
The Eye in the Sky: Watching Walker’s film is just fun. He plays hard and enjoys the sport of football. As Walker continues to prove his overall athleticism and hustle, play after play, it’s incredible to realize that this comes from sophomore footage. Remember, Walker still holds two years of high school football before reaching a college football gridiron.
This first play demonstrated how determined Walker became last fall, as he completely blew up the right guard and moved laterally towards the running back before taking him down for a loss of yardage. Quickness, strength, determination, and excellent vision to find the ball carrier while still fending off a block all came in just a couple of seconds.
The following clip presented Walker’s use of his hands to go back underneath the offensive guard, slap his hands away, and then dip underneath his shoulder to gain leverage and head for the quarterback. The end result would be what every defensive line coach wants to see: the quarterback dislodged from the football.
The final play presented tremendous strength being shown by Walker. It’s a power running play, and Walker stuffs the offensive guard, gets inside leverage while holding off the offensive lineman with one arm, and then tackles the running back with his free arm. The amount of hip torque, alone, needs to be mentioned before getting to the really interesting aspect of his play.
The football IQ and athleticism after stalemating the offensive guard also presented signals that Walker not only possesses natural talent, but he knows how to manufacture a tackle for loss with his instincts as much as his brawn. This is a great football play, period.
Few high school offensive linemen can handle the overall skills of Walker, and now he’s back from a nagging injury to play even better this fall. Good luck to the offensive linemen going against Walker during the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Side Note: Walker plays along the Osceola defensive line with fellow top-notch defensive lineman Derrick LeBlanc, another national recruit from the class of 2023. Not many defensive lines in America feature one prospect like either of these two, let alone two national prospects.
As scouts see more and more of Walker’s film, his stock from college coaches will rise, as will Walker’s recruiting rankings. He’s a bona fide candidate to be a five-star recruit, and it could not happen to a nicer young man. Great to see such a humble guy be blessed with so much talent.
2023 Prospect Film Review: Elite Defensive Tackle John Walker