Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Q&A: Preferred walk-on Von Walker
By Josh Moyer
Von Walker (Mill Hall, Pa./Central Mountain) accepted a preferred walk-on offer from Penn State about a month ago, and he recently spoke with NittanyNation at length about his future with the Nittany Lions.
The versatile athlete -- who's played QB, RB, FB, FS and LB -- will play slotback for PSU and hopes to make a name for himself.
NittanyNation: When Penn State told you it wanted you as a preferred walk-on last month, what was your reaction? Was it a relatively easy decision to accept?
Von Walker: Well, growing up, Penn State's like a huge deal and everyone wants to play for Penn State. And to be honest with you, I wasn't really getting anything from anywhere else. But Penn State was consistently the only school talking to me. I had D-2 and D-3 schools talking to me but, at that moment, Penn State was the highest I could go and prove myself at.
And when you play hard for so many years, you don't want to settle for something -- I don't want to say mediocre -- but you want to take yourself to the highest level you can. So, even though I didn't get a scholarship, I knew I wanted to take myself there.
NN: You're obviously versatile, but Penn State's looking at you as a slotback. What's it going to be like focusing on just one position for a change? And why do you think PSU wanted you there as opposed to, say, QB or linebacker?
VW: I'm excited to get up to Penn State and focus on one position because when you focus on five positions, you have to worry about everything. I'm just excited to focus on one thing and get really good at it.
I think you can tell from my film that I'm a lot more confident with the ball in my hands. I'm not a big defensive person. I like to hit, that's one of my favorite things, but I just don't feel as confident, and I think they could see that. And quarterback, there's a difference between a high school quarterback and one who can be a college quarterback. And I'm not a quarterback at the college level. I think they saw the same thing I was feeling on my film -- I'm more comfortable with the ball in my hands in open spaces.
NN: What was the reaction in your community after they found out you'd be playing at Beaver Stadium on Saturdays?
VW: After I told everyone I was going there, the community was great. Everyone's asking me questions, and it was just really, really exciting. But then you're sitting there, thinking now it's time to get serious because all those 'Good jobs' and 'Congratulations' come along with a lot of hard work.
It's scary at the same time. I'm excited, but I'm nervous. So maybe scared isn't the right word. Everyone's excited about me, and people are already talking about the video games. One of my friends told me can't wait to play with me on NCAA 14.
NN: What do you think your strengths are as a player, and what do you need to get better at?
VW: I'm not slow, but I wouldn't say I'm the fastest guy on the field either. I don't want to run myself down or anything, but I'm definitely not the fastest or the biggest. I'm like 6-1, 190-or-something. I could be taller, but I think what I do have is pretty good vision. I'm confident and if I have the ball, I can see holes open before they do.
But I hope when I get to Penn State, I gain some speed. I think my 40 was like a 4.5, but I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I don't like being second. I want to get bigger, I want more speed, more mass and strength. It's definitely going to take hard work, but I think I'll be ready.
NN: What gets you most excited about playing for Penn State?
VW: I guess I'm really excited to be a part of something bigger than, I don't know, it's hard to explain. When me and my mom and dad went to visit, the crowd -- just the student section -- everyone just seemed really close. They're all friends, and I'm excited to be a part of that.
Everyone's striving for the same thing, and everyone loves football there, and it's going to be a lot easier to become more successful when you're in an environment that thrives off being great. I'm really excited about it. There are some kids who used to go to my high school that go to Penn State right now, and they're pumped for me to come up there. And I want them to be able to talk to their friends together and say, 'Hey, I went to high school with that kid.'