Our next prospect interview is with Kansas State Safety Eli Walker. Walker is a 6’2” 202 pound safety who is athletic and can come downhill to make plays.
Senior Stats: 68 total tackles with 3 tackles for a loss.
Walker interviewed exclusively with Stampede Blue to talk about going the JUCO route out of high school, his big hitting ability, and which NFL players he models his game after.
ZH: I’m reading here on Kansas State’s website that you only played one year of high school football. Why was that?
EW: During high school, I was pretty much going through some stuff off of the field. Not me personally but just with my family and everything so I had to walk away from classes and everything so I dropped out of school when I was a Sophomore in high school, I guess I was 13. I had dropped out and I didn’t go back until my Senior year so I was out of school my entire Sophomore year and my Junior year as well. I just didn’t really have the chance to step on the field.
ZH: You attended Cerritos Junior College out of high school. Why did you go the JUCO route and how was the experience for you?
EW: I didn’t meet the requirements for a Division I player as far as academically so I understood from the jump that when I left high school that I would have to take the JUCO route. Getting adapted to everything was pretty tough. I had to move out of my mom’s house and pretty much take care of myself with the little financial aid that they gave us. So you know Junior College is real tough but I just dedicated myself everyday to make it Division I.
On the field, it was my first year playing safety actually so the learning experience was fun. I felt like playing safety was brand new to me but I had some guys who were sophomores who I had to learn the game like small things like how to read coverages, how to backpedal and things like that. It wasn’t hard but it was brand new to me so I had to adapt to everything and it really didn’t take that much time as well. Pretty much just the whole summer I dedicated myself to everything that I needed to accomplish.
ZH: So after JUCO— you were the number one safety prospect out of JUCO— you decided to go to Kansas State. Why did you decide them?
EW: I had decommitted from Kansas State, I actually didn’t want to go to Kansas State. They were in my options because I had played with D.J Reed and I had first thought about playing there until TCU came along. So after I decommitted from Kansas State, I was getting ready to sign with TCU, I ran into an obstacle with one of my classes not meeting the requirements which meant I had to stay a little longer which pushed my date back further. So Kansas State stuck with me as far as helping me out and finding me a class that I could take to go Division I.
ZH: After an impressive Senior year, you did not receive a Combine invite. What can we expect from you at your Pro Day?
EW: First of all, I plan on running a 4.5— mid- 4.5’s— coaches from the next level see how big I am, they see how physical I am so the question is, I’m guessing, can he run, can he move, how fluid are his hips, how he breaks. I feel like the coaches are going to be real.. they are going to like what they see because I’ve been working on my hips, I’ve actually always had good hips just the defensive scheme that Kansas State ran doesn’t really show what I can do and I feel like that’s just a disadvantage I had. So I have to really show them that I can run, that I can move, and how fluid my hips are.
ZH: I love how you mentioned your physicality because that is the first thing that pops on film. Is that the staple of your game?
EW: I would say.... From other people’s eyes they see that as the biggest part of my game but honestly I feel that I can range the field as well, I know how to bait quarterbacks and things like that. That is what I put out there the most but I feel like I’m also rangy and other things like that along with being physical. The big hits are not normal hits that you see from players nowadays so yeah I guess you could say that.. yeah you right.
Eli Walker laying the wood! pic.twitter.com/pmtl85H4xF— The Kansas State Fan (@Thekstatefan) September 19, 2018
ZH: You were mostly used around the line of scrimmage or in the box at Kansas State. Is that the best role for you or can you play over the top or in some single high?
EW: I for sure can play over top as well. I can play in the box, I can guard tight ends, I can fill gaps and things like that.. I can do everything in the box but I also can play deep middle— which I gotta show and I haven’t shown yet— and that is the goal for the next level, showing that I can play up high, deep half, deep middle and things like that.
ZH: Speaking of covering tight ends, the NFL is looking for players to be TE erasers in the league. With your size and physicality, do you think you can be that type of player?
EW: For sure, I’ve been guarding tight ends pretty much my whole life. I feel like that wouldn’t be hard at all. I’ve been doing it every year. Even at Kansas State when there was a single high coverage or whatever, I go down and guard the tight ends. I’ve been working on it my whole career so it wouldn’t be hard at all.
ZH: What is you best trait going into the NFL? What will coaches take away from you film most?
EW: Obviously a big hitter, I would say playmaker, and I’m also a leader as far as being in the locker room and on the field. Just a fun and exciting player to watch who brings momentum to the game overall.
ZH: Who in the NFL do you model your game after when you watch film?
EW: When I look at NFL safeties, I look at two guys; one of them I don’t like to say because he’s a bit limited but Keanu Neal and Landon Collins.
ZH: Which is a better feeling; a big hit over the middle or an interception?
EW: I would have to say... You know getting a big hit is kind of like a norm to me so I don’t really get a feeling from that anymore so I’d have to go with the interception.
ZH: Why come draft day should my team draft Eli Walker?
EW: I’m underrated right now and I have a huge chip on my shoulder because I feel like I should be among the top rankings but I never got the opportunity to show my talents at Kansas State. I played only one year but that is something I can’t control. I’m going to come in and work hard, learn from the vets if I have to, I’m a fast learner, I can do just about anything pretty much. I’m willing to play in the box, willing to play up top, and I’m gonna get the job done regardless.