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Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Walker has shot at big role for Noles

By Corey Dowlar

The group of early enrollees that stepped onto Florida State's campus in January consisted of just two players -- excluding the medically disqualified Richy Klepal. DeMarcus Walker and Freddie Stevenson got their lockers, staked out their freshman dorm rooms and entered the Seminoles’ strength and conditioning program.

With depth and unproven talent at defensive end, DeMarcus Walker has a chance to earn playing time in 2013.
What Florida State lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Both Walker and Stevenson were ranked in the ESPN 300, and Walker was ranked as the No. 5 overall defensive tackle in the country.

Walker has the best opportunity to make an impact this spring. Depending on the scheme, he could line up at either defensive tackle or end. Florida State lost significant contributors and stars at both positions, so a great spring could mean Walker will earn a starting job.

When he showed up at the Under Armour All-America Game in January, Walker was in better shape and also a little leaner. At a trimmed down 260 pounds, defensive end could be a better fit for the Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood product. The departures of Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Brandon Jenkins also don’t hurt his chances at playing time at end.

Even if Walker doesn’t earn a starting job this spring, he should make an impression. Couple that with how he performs in fall camp and he should be a factor in FSU’s four-man end rotation.

One thing he does have going for him is that the Seminoles defensive staff had a major overhaul this offseason. Giorgio Newberry, Mario Edwards, Chris Casher and Walker are fresh players to new defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri. And if new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt changes the scheme, other players' advantage of experience might be negated.

Walker will still need to work on strength and technique, but he is far from physically lacking. The spring will at least give him more time to work on those things.

Finally, besides just simply learning, he should be able to put some distance between himself and incoming players Davarez Bryant and Desmond Hollin. Whether he earns a starting gig or not, he’ll at least be prepared to contribute when Florida State hits the field against Pittsburgh on Labor Day night.