Meet Charles Walker; A Player with Passion For Football and Love For His Daughter
Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
When defensive end Charles Walker takes the field, it isn’t the roar of the crowd he hears. But the voice of his daughter Jade.
From New Orleans, Louisiana, Walker started off as a basketball player playing on travel teams and AAU squads before taking to football late in his academic career.
“I started playing football around the middle school years,” Walker said. “I was quarterback at first and middle linebacker I was a bigger guy on the team so I used that to my advantage.”
Walker looked to his coaches in high school to get him into the game and he worked to model his game after one of the greats on defense in Ndomakung Suh and Super Bowl champion linebacker Ray Lewis.
“How aggressive [Suh] is and how he played ball, how vicious his hands were,” Walker said. “Another guy I looked up to was of course Ray Lewis, everybody looked up to Lewis, they called him the beast on that side.”
At first, Walker wasn’t thinking about college and didn’t think that it was in the cards for him to take his football and education to the next level. But fate and a call from a higher presence, made him reconsider and get back to work.
“I didn’t think I would be at that level with school, I wasn’t thinking about college,” Walker said. “But until my senior year I found out I was having a daughter and that flipped a switch in my head and God says everything has a reason behind it and when I found about me having a child, I said ‘I have to take this more serious, life is really hitting me now.”
Walker turned to the school he said was always around during his time to make a decision. Oklahoma. The Texas native took the opportunity for a scholarship at one of the Big 12’s elite schools only a few years into playing football.
Walker started off slow his freshman year at defensive tackle only recording four tackles and half a sack but he would get his footing in his sophomore season with big numbers recording 25 total tackles, 10 for a loss, and six sacks being named to the All-Big 12 Second Team by ESPN and coaches around the NCAA.
“I got more comfortable,” Walker said. “My freshman year I really wanted to know what I was doing, what I was getting myself into because I didn’t know much about the game, my coach told me how to go forward and take the guy with you, and when it came to the next year, I got so passionate behind it because I was like ‘man I feel so much I better, I knew I could do this, I could play at a higher level, I had been putting in the work, I got great coaches behind me.'”
Walker kept putting everything together that his coaches were teaching him with the fundamentals of pass rushing and maneuvering with his hands. But there was one thing that never left his mind for a second once his cleats hit the Oklahoma gridiron.
“I just had my daughter in my head, every game, every play, every practice and I just felt like I knew what I was doing it for,” Walker said. “I just felt like I know that I can get to that next level, if I continue to put in the work each time I took the field.”
An unlikely football dream was made complete, when Walker who had been playing football for less than a decade, was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent.
“I was very excited that I was able to accomplish this, to be an NFL player,” Walker said. “For someone to see something in me, for me to even go that far, is a big thing to a whole lot of guys who can’t set foot there like that who work so much harder than me and are better than me, but I still put my work in, it was just a relief that I’ve been a part of every kid’s dream.”
Walker tore his meniscus early on in training camp and was waived by the team but he will never forget his experience in Philadelphia with the team and fans that were behind them all the way.
“I didn’t know that it was a true brotherhood,” Walker said. “They really care about the organization and it was a great team to be a part of.”
Fully healed, Walker was looking for another opportunity to get back in the game when Massachusetts Pirates president Jawad Yatim made the call. The former Sooner was ready and excited as ever.
“I told him ‘I’m down, I’m with the squad,'” Walker said. “With you giving me a chance is all I care about, with you believing me that much to give me a chance, I understand it’s about winning ball games I get that, but at the same time putting you’re trust into me, that’s a big thing for me and I told him I’m going to give you my all, I wanna ball, I wanna play, I wanna win.”
Walker is excited to not only get back on the field to play, but for his family to have a chance to watch him do what he loves the most and one thing is for sure. His No.1 fan is more excited than he that he’s returning to the field once again.
“My daughter loves [to see me play] too she’s my biggest fan,” Walker said. “When I was in college she two or three, she was young but she was still “boomer sooner” all the way coming to the game with the jersey on, her little tutus. She asked me all the time ‘when is daddy gonna get back to football’ and she would always say ‘it’s going to happen’ and that just keeps me going, that keeps pushing me to a whole other level of life mentally.”
When he steps onto the field, he surely going to be chasing the ball, but what matters most to him is that his daughter is watching her father live the dream.
“I’ve got her name all over the place, I’ve got her picture on my locker,” Walker said. “I call her before games, everything. Sometimes I’ll sneak away and call her at halftime and ask her if she’s watching.”
Come April, the duo will dawn Pirates jerseys with one digging in to charge the quarterback and the other watching as her father lives his dream once again.