Dreaming big: Marietta College All-American Roger Walker eyes pro football

JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times Marietta’s College’s Roger Walker (1) celebrates with teammate Tanner Clark (9) after a touchdown against Muskingum during a college football game earlier this season at Don Drumm Stadium.

After senior Roger Walker’s final football game as a Marietta College Pioneer at Don Drumm Stadium on Nov. 11, the 5-foot-11, 215-pound star running back hinted at continuing his playing days as a pro.

“I know that I probably won’t be drafted by an NFL team,” said the 22-year-old Walker, who was honored as a first-team D3football.com All-American on Dec. 15 . Twice before, he’d been an All-American honoree, but not as a first-teamer.

“I’m being realistic about that, playing at the Division III college level,” Walker continued. “Most of the players who get drafted are from D1 schools. But there are other possibilities.”

Indeed, there are. If not the National Football League, then there’s the CFL (Canadian Football League), AFL (Arena Football League), and even Europe.

“I’ve been working out and lifting,” Walker said. “My body feels good, and I feel good. I know that I can play at that level, and I’m ready for the challenge.”

In a couple of weeks or so, Walker will get an opportunity to perform in front of some pro scouts at the Dream Bowl at Salem Football Stadium in Salem, Va., Jan. 11-15, 2018. The Dream Bowl will be featuring FCS, D2 and D3 senior standouts.

“Hopefully, maybe I can put up some good numbers and make an impression,” Walker said.

Currently, Walker is on Christmas break in his hometown of Palm Bay, Fla. There, he’s preparing to play in the Dream Bowl.

“I’m not due back to the (Marietta College) campus until mid-January,” Walker said.

Question is, how does a star prep football player from the Sunshine State, like Walker, end up competing at Marietta College?

Walker, a four-sport athlete at Bayside, laughed.

“I’d never heard of Marietta College until I went to a recruiting fair in Cocoa (Fla.) in my senior year in high school,” he said.

Walker admitted that he’d wanted to play D1 football while attending Bayside High in Palm Bay. But a hamstring injury and a high ankle sprain pretty much hurt his chances at playing football at that level.

“I still considered walking on at FIU (Florida International University) and FAU (Florida Atlantic University),” Walker said. “But then I met Greg Harbaugh (now at Minnesota in the Big Ten), the quarterbacks coach at Marietta College at the recruiting fair. He seemed to know who I was, and he made an impression.”

Walker said that he also talked to representatives from Mount Union, Ohio Northern, and Adrian at the fair. But he was intrigued by Marietta College.

“I went for a visit to Marietta College on April 23, 2013,” recalled Walker, “and I just fell in love with the campus and the coaching staff.”

Long story short, Walker decided to continue his education in sports management and play football at MC.

“I knew the football program had been struggling and had gone 0-10,” Walker said. “But I was hoping that maybe I could help turn things around for them.”

It took until Walker’s senior season before the Andy Waddle-coached Pioneers fielded a winning team (6-4 this past fall). But what a run, literally, it had been for Walker.

In his final game as a Pioneer against Otterbein, Walker eclipsed 4,000 career rushing yards and 5000 career all-purpose yards. He also finished with 52 total touchdowns, good for second place on Marietta’s all-time list.

“It’s definitely sad, because this year we did some great things,” said Walker after MC dropped a 48-14 decision to the Cardinals. “It just wasn’t our day today.”

Walker paused.

“I love all of my teammates, and I wouldn’t trade them for anybody in the world,” he said. “The offensive linemen did great things for me this year, last year, and the year before.”

After leading MC to an upset win against then-nationally ranked Heidelberg University on Oct. 21, Walker said it even more succinctly, “It’s not all me. It’s my offensive line, getting the holes for me and pushing down the piles and all that. I was just doing what I have to do to help the team.”

No question about it, the Marietta College football program will miss Walker next fall. But, by then, who knows, he just might be suited up as a professional somewhere.