Senior Virginia Tech defensive tackle Ricky Walker has accepted an invitation to play in the 2019 East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19, 2019.
The news comes about three weeks after Walker was named second-team All-ACC by the media and coaches of the conference. He led the Hokies' defensive line in tackles this season with 49, and he also added 10.5 tackles for loss
and two sacks.
Since the beginning of last season, Walker has continued to grow as a leader for Virginia Tech's defense. His teammates have dubbed him "the bell-cow," and he has enjoyed the honor of carrying the lunch pail this season.
In his five-year career at Virginia Tech, Walker has totaled 127 tackles
, 30.5 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks. After seeing action in six games during his freshman season, he took the advice of the coaches and redshirted during his sophomore year. He credits this decision for the success he has enjoyed in the ensuing years.
“If I didn’t redshirt, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Walker said to the Roanoke Times
earlier this year. “....It’s a good thing to get stronger, to get better, to get faster, stronger, to learn the playbook more. I think that extra year helped me a lot.”
Walker definitely improved during that redshirt year. After managing just nine tackles
in 2014, he upped that total to 28 in as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. He continued to improve each season, tallying 41 tackles in 2017 and 49 in 2018.
More importantly, Walker's work ethic and integrity have made him an invaluable leader for the Hokies. Many players and coaches have spoken highly of him throughout his career and especially his senior season.
“Ricky is the kind of guy that does what whatever you ask him to do," said head coach Justin Fuente to the Roanoke Times
before the UVA game this season. "He’s going to do whatever you ask as hard as he can."
Now, all the hard work is paying off. Walker will get a chance to play in the East-West Shrine game and try to improve his NFL Draft stock. Currently, DraftTek.com
lists Walker as the 13th best defensive tackle in this year's draft class. A good performance in the Shrine Game with the whole nation watching could help put him in position to be drafted.
Photo Credit: Harley Taylor