Last month, linebacker Walker Jones committed to the University of Alabama and followed his older brothers, Barrett and Harrison, to Tuscaloosa. It was nothing out of the ordinary for Walker, who has taken after his brothers his whole life.
“They were my leaders as we were growing up, and I kind of did what they did,” Jones said.
Now it’s his turn to lead.
The Cordova, Tenn., native is heading into his senior season at Evangelical Christian School, and he believes this year’s team has the talent to win a state championship. The only thing holding them back might be the inexperience at certain positions.
“It’s a talented group of young kids, but they’re just inexperienced,” Jones said. “So that’s my job to get them ready and get them mentally prepared to go out there and make plays.
“If the older guys are slacking off and not giving a full effort, you really can’t expect the younger guys to. If the seniors go out there and set a great example for how your work is supposed to be done, the younger guys are usually going to follow.”
Recently, Jones was named one of the captains of his high school team, which is an honor he doesn’t take lightly.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I’ve been working really, really hard to try to achieve that. That was a definite goal of mine. I was very happy when I found out. It’s a great feeling to know that your team wants you to lead them.”
His older brother Barrett knows a thing or two about leading a team. After winning the Outland Trophy a year ago and anchoring the Crimson Tide’s offensive line, he’s in line to be named a captain at Alabama this year.
Before Walker felt like he was ready to be a captain of his team, he knew he had to get his recruitment behind him. That’s why he committed to UA when he did, and it has been a relief ever since.
“It’s been great,” Walker said of life since his decision. ‘Everybody has been really happy for me. I’ve got a lot of congratulations, so that’s awesome. It’s a very relieving feeling so I can put my whole focus on my team and not have distractions.
“I wanted to have my full focus on this football season and not have to worry about other things other than just my team. This has allowed me to do that.”
The team will face Germantown High School on Thursday night in a jamboree game before opening the season the following week.
Although he’s concentrating on his senior season, Walker still plans to attend all of Alabama’s home games and some of the road games. He’s most excited for the Tide’s season opener against Michigan in Cowboys Stadium.
“It’s going to be great,” he said. “It’s going to be one of those that you’ll never forget. I hope we crush them, but we’ll see. They have a good team.”