January 11, 2007

'Right for me'

The last time Darius Walker sat inside the Guglielmino Center facing a battery of microphones, he opined on Notre Dame's impending offensive turnover. Notre Dame's Sugar Bowl date was still weeks away, but Walker couldn't ignore the fact poster boy Brady Quinn was out the door followed by receivers Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight plus at least three offensive linemen.

On Thursday, with parents Jimmy and LaVerne by his side, Walker decided he'd rather leave with those teammates than rebuild the Irish offense without them. Walker announced he'll skip his senior season to enter the NFL Draft, the first junior to leave Notre Dame early since cornerback Bobby Taylor did so following the 1994 season.

"Well, it was a lot of things that went through my mind about this decision," Walker said. "So I just really feel like it's right for me."

Neither head coach Charlie Weis nor offensive coordinator and running backs coach Mike Haywood attended the press conference.

Walker sidestepped what factors made the decision for him and spun out of questions about where he's projected in the draft. He said he's not making a "blind" decision and that he'll eventually graduate from Notre Dame. He said he plans to take 15 hours of classes this spring, which he estimated would leave him four courses short of graduation.

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