As he laces up for fall camp Kody Walker knows what to expect. After all, he is a veteran at this sort of thing. This year marks the Jefferson City, Missouri native’s fifth fall camp since arriving in Fayetteville for his freshman season in 2011.
“It’s gone by fast,” Walker said. “My first few camps were tough, but it’s gotten easier as I’ve gotten older. You get so many memories from this time. Being around the guys 24/7, you build chemistry all day long.“
Suffering season-ending injuries in his first two years, Walker spent many games observing from the sidelines.
But with each setback, there was a silver lining. The opportunity to zone in on the technique and work ethic of some of Arkansas’ most decorated running backs, such as Knile Davis, Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson.
After years of constantly picking their brains, he learned the value of patience. Going 100 miles per hour was unrealistic and unsuccessful. Letting the game come to him and being observant has allowed him to see the field in a new light, making certain moves and reads in split seconds.
Although Walker is often referred to as “grandpa” by his teammates, he has no trouble admitting he admires and continues to learn a lot from younger Razorbacks, specifically running back Jonathan Williams.
“J-Will is a great player with a constant positive attitude,” Walker said. “He is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen, always wanting to get better. I try to model his work ethic, and he keeps me going. I try to push him and he certainly pushes me.”
There is evident depth at the running back position this season, which returns the 1,000-yard rushing duo of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. But Walker believes he brings something different to the table – his strength.
“I’m a big back,” Walker said. “With AC and J-Will, you have speed and versatility. When I come into the game, I think a lot of guys are like, ‘Dang, we have to tackle this 260 pound guy?’ I’m not that guy that’s going to do some crazy cutting and spinning, but I am a load to bring down.”
Eager for the junior tailback to shine in 2015, head coach Bret Bielema agrees.
“He’s in complete beast mode,” Bielema said. “At 260 pounds, he’s just a different guy when he’s in that huddle and in at tailback.”
Walker is working on developing as a leader, becoming a more vocal presence. He strives to be the teammate younger guys can look to and hopes they want to model his work ethic. Recently, Walker was granted a sixth year of eligibility, and is coming off of his most successful season so far, registering 31 carries for 149 yards and one touchdown in 2014.
“I’ve had a frustrating career when it comes to injuries and setbacks,” Walker said. “Knowing I am here living a dream that I’ve always wanted to live, in the SEC West, sometimes I can’t even believe it. I’m excited about how good we are. This is one of the best teams I’ve been on since I’ve been here. We have a chance to be very good. It’s going to be a special year.”