The true freshman quarterback lifted Temple to its first win of the season before a Homecoming crowd of 25,533 at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, orchestrating an efficient offense in a 33-14 win over visiting Army. Walker’s statistics were not spectacular (10-for-16 for 201 yards and two touchdowns), but his overall leadership was.
The game was not even that close as Temple jumped out to a 26-0 lead at halftime and led 33-0 midway through the third quarter. The Owls (1-6), who won their first game for new head coach Matt Rhule, then shifted into cruise control. This was Walker’s second start, but his first at home was a coming-out party.
A year ago at this time, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Walker was quarterbacking a high school team, (Elizabeth, N.J.) to an unbeaten season and a state championship. For his efforts, Walker was named New Jersey’s Player of the Year.
The interesting thing about Walker is that he looks like Bridgewater, throws like Bridgewater and is sneaky elusive like Bridgewater, who is projected to be the first pick in the NFL draft next April. How he wound up at Temple despite more high-profile suitors is a story in itself.
Former Temple head coach Steve Addazio, a national three-time recruiter of the year at Florida, was on Walker at the early stages of his junior year and Temple’s “first-one-in” recruiting pitch made an impact on Walker. When higher-profile schools came in late, Walker told them, thanks but no thanks, and that he was being loyal to the school that was first loyal to him.
“They sent me like 12 letters a day,” Walker said.
The decision could be beneficial to both parties. When Louisville and Rutgers leave for the ACC and Big 10, respectively, next season, a young Temple team led by Walker could move up into the ranks of an immediate contender in the AAC making Walker the kind of player who could single-handedly turn a program around.
Just like Bridgewater did for Louisville.