Running With the Gators
by Rick Snow
Former Statesboro star, Jimtavis Walker, appeared on the cover of Inside High School Football in 2001. He was on the verge of leading the Blue Devils to the state championship and an undefeated season.
He had always set his sites on lofty goals and now he’s doing the same thing at the University of Florida. As a true freshman, Walker was redshirted in the first season Coach Ron Zook ran the Gators’ show.
But Walker said he didn't mind the learning experience, “I felt I wasn't ready to make that transition from high school to college, so I think it benefited me.”
Walker spent his year working out with the Gators, going to class and preparing for Spring Football, “The first year went pretty good. I had to get used to college life, like going to class and living by yourself. Football went pretty good, too. It’s a big change from high school.”
The coaches have been impressed with the way Walker has adapted to the college game. Dwayne Dixon, the Gators’ assistant head coach, says, “He’s doing a fine job. He came in there trying to acclimate himself to the way things are done under Coach Zook’s management.”
Dixon thinks Walker is making the kind of progress that was needed in order to play at Florida, “I think he’s finally understanding what we expect of him. He had a wonderful Spring. We saw some of the glimpses of excitement and when he starts to do that on a consistent basis, he’s going to be a fine addition to our team.”
Walker was the leading rusher in the Orange and Blue game in the Spring. He carried the ball 10 times, picking up 42 yards. “Right now, I'm second or third on the depth chart behind a senior,” says Walker. “I'll be returning kicks this year, but I plan on playing a major role this year.”
Walker has added a new dimension to his game, catching passes. He was also the leading receiver in the Orange and Blue game with 4 receptions for 24 yards, giving him a total of 64 yards of total offense. “You can't always run the ball in college, you have to throw the ball” says Walkers. “In college football you have to be versatile, you (the player) have to be able to run and catch the football.”
The Statesboro native didn't catch many passes when he played for the Blue Devils, “It’s a change, but not a big change. I think I can do that.”
Walker has been working hard in the weight room at Florida. Dixon thinks he is already a lot bigger than when he enrolled, “He’s grown. He’s probably eating more food than he has in a long time. He’s working out in the weight room and our strength and conditioning coach has done a great job with him.”
That’s good, as far as it goes. Now the question is, will he keep it up.
Dixon seems to think he will, “He (Walker) understands that if he wants to
compete at a high level, he’s going to have to continue working hard.”
Walker should play a major role in any success the Gators have this season.