August 26, 2008

Walker ready to ring some bells

Kansas State senior Reggie Walker is having trouble sleeping, but it's not nerves or the building enthusiasm for the home opener that's keeping him awake. Instead, it's a certain craving -- an almost impassable hunger -- that's been leaving his mattress lonely late at night. Walker has a fever, you see, and as actor Christopher Walken once so famously said, "There's only one prescription."

This time, however, the cure has nothing to do with a cowbell.

"I need to hit somebody," Walker said. "(Defensive end Ian Campbell) and I were talking about it at 1:30 in the morning last night. I couldn't sleep. Actually, I didn't want to sleep. I wanted to hit somebody. I had to tell Ian about it. I'm in that mode now. I just want to run through somebody, and that's all I want to do."

This is nothing new. Walker says restless nights are a common occurrence for him at this time of year. In fact, he goes through it every season. But his unwavering desire to mow down on anything that moves might just be the only parallel between this year and ones past, as K-State's most seasoned linebacker has taken on an almost entirely new persona in preparation for his final campaign in a purple jersey.

Fans may have enjoyed and even identified with goofy, spacey, loveable player that used to wear No.53 for the Wildcats, and Walker is OK with that, but, at the same time, he hopes they snapped a picture, because that guy is never coming back. Walker is the most experienced linebacker on the roster, after all, and the 247-pound junior has recently decided it's high time for him to start acting as such.

"I needed to grow up," Walker said. "I needed to put a little more on myself and set my goals a little higher. I used to do some things and act a certain way, but now I'm trying to come across a bit different. I saw that some of the things I was doing in the past weren't necessarily what I should have been doing."

So tip your hat to the days of the 6-foot-1 linebacker doing impressions of teammates in the locker room and bid adieu to the player who would much rather joke, snicker and daydream than pay attention during team meetings. Don't be fooled by his multi-colored locks, or even the recent past, the new Reggie Walker is a full-time football player, and a serious one at that.

That's not to say the California-born linebacker was a distraction on wheels a year ago, as his teammates assert that wasn't the case. Even still, as far as Walker is concerned, when something is broken, as was the final leg of K-State's 2007 season, a proactive approach is needed to fix it.

"After last season ended, things weren't going so well for me," he said. "I was beat up mentally and physically. I talked to my family and talked to Coach Prince. One of the things Coach Prince said is: 'If you want things to change, you must change.' That conversation made me look at who I was, and I finally realized that's not how I want to be perceived around here anymore."

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