When defensive end DeMarcus Walker made the decision to return for his final year of eligibility, Florida State knew they not only would have the services of an emerging dominant player, but a player who could step in as a leader of the defense.
Walker is very much immersed in that role as the Seminoles prepare for the start of spring practice on Wednesday.
“What people don’t know is the season starts now,” Walker said last week as the team was winding down Fourth Quarter Drills. “I had to tell that to my team, just getting into shape, getting ready for spring ball.”
The 6-3, 281-pound Walker led the Seminoles with 10 ½ sacks (six more than his closest teammate) and 15 ½ tackles for loss. He will team with Josh Sweat to give FSU one of the top defensive end tandems in the country.
Still, Walker was not happy with the season, one that ended with a Peach Bowl loss to Houston to drop FSU’s record to 10-3.
“A 10-win season is not our standard,” he said. “It wasn’t our standard back in the day. It’s definitely not the standard now. Our standard is to play great football and win it all.”
A big reason for Walker returning was to continue to develop under defensive ends coach Brad Lawing. Walker points to his growth in one season as proof that Lawing, who joined Jimbo Fisher’s staff just over a year ago, is making a difference. Walker had two sacks and eight tackles for loss his first two years in which he played 26 games.
Walker also is getting motivation from NFL free agency as he tweeted this two days ago.
“I feel great in my decision coming back,” Walker said. “There’s more to learn. When I announced I was coming back for my senior year, (Lawing) and I had a long conversation about my expectations, what I could do better. He said he was going to go to the NFL meetings and see what knowledge he could get and apply it here.
“I have a lot more to prove. I feel I can be the most dominant player in the country. And I just have to work for it.”