Walker brings star power to Army
By SAL INTERDONATO | The Times Herald-Record | Published: October 11, 2017
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) -- Kell Walker's teammates call him "Five Stars." He switched his jersey number from No. 32 to 5 this season, but that change only partly explains the nickname.
Recruiting services rate high school players from zero to five stars and Walker, a 5-foot-9, 195-pound running back, didn't receive a high grade out of Lakeside High in Decatur, Ga.
"When I was coming out of high school, I was a little underrated," said Walker, whose college offers included Division I-AA schools Hampton, Presbyterian and South Carolina State.
Not anymore. Walker has had a superb sophomore season. If Army's offense has a game breaker, it's Walker.
Averaging 9.7 yards per carry, Walker is coming off a career game in the Black Knights' 49-12 win at Rice on Saturday. His 127 yards rushing and three touchdowns were career highs. Walker was Army's first player to score three times in a game since Darnell Woolfolk at UTEP last season, a span of 15 games.
"He does a good job when he's got the ball in his hands of making people miss," Army coach Jeff Monken said. "He's got good vision when he's running the ball. He has found a couple of creases."
Walker's speed in the open field sets him apart from teammates. Army has 17 plays of at least 20 yards against five Division I-A teams this season. Walker, third on the team with 320 yards rushing, has accounted for six of those plays, including touchdown runs of 47 and 23 yards in the first half against Rice.
"Blocking for him is a joy because you look up and he's 50 yards down the field," Army senior guard Josh Boylan said. "He's an incredible athlete, versatile in every way and a tough guy. Defenses think they got him pinned down and the next thing you know he squirts out. I don't know how he does it."
Many of Walker's long runs have come out of the shotgun where he lines up alongside quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw.
"The offensive line works their butts in practice every day," Walker said. "They are the reason why I'm able to (have success). They open up holes every Saturday. I appreciate them as well as on the outside, our wide receivers, slotbacks and B-backs (fullbacks) get people to the ground. They allow me to puncture the defense."
(c) 2017 The Times Herald-Record. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.