(UHND.com) – Darius Walker confirmed reports from last night that he was going to declare for the NFL Draft at an afternoon press conference at Notre Dame. Walker, who had a good chance of breaking the all time rushing mark at Notre Dame, will finish up school after three more classes and will pursue his NFL dream a year early.
“I’ve decided to forego my senior year and to make myself eligible for the NFL Draft. And I definitely want to thank the entire Notre Dame community, their fans for supporting me and being behind me and this team my entire time here. You really can’t find a better bunch of fans,” Walker told the media Thursday afternoon.
This news came as a surprise to most Notre Dame fans who had just assumed he would be returning for his senior year and while Walker hasn’t hired an agent yet, he said his mind was made up about going to the NFL. “I definitely feel like I’ve made up my mind and made the decision to want to go on and to move on,” Walker responded when asked if he might change his mind by next week’s deadline for declaring for the draft.
Head coach Charlie Weis was not on hand for the press conference but did issue a statement which was read to the media before Walker got stage.
“On Tuesday, Darius Walker and his parents informed me of his intent to make himself eligible for the NFL Draft. He guaranteed me that he would graduate from Notre Dame in the near future. Although disappointed, we wish him nothing but the best,” Weis said through his statement.
Walker said Weis’s main concern with him leaving was from an academic standpoint. “Coach Weis was worried about the graduation aspect of it and me being able to get my degree and things like that,” Walker said before adding, “I assured him that that’s something I’m still going to get and it will be in the near future.”
After this term, Walker will be just four classes short of getting his degree despite only being in his third year of college. He plans on finishing up those final four classes in the near future by making use of the NFL off-season.
Where Walker will get drafted is anyone’s guess right now. Most draft boards do not have Walker listed since it was generally considered that he would be back at Notre Dame next year, but its not out of the question for Walker to be a mid to late first day pick if he can run a good 40 time at the combine.
Walker has always been said to lack elite speed making his 40 time at the combine a huge factor in where he ends up getting drafted. Scouts will love his blocking and pass catching ability, but if he runs a 4.6 or slower at the combine, his draft stock could suffer.
His absence next year will create yet another hole for Weis to fill this off-season. The loss of Walker means a new starting quarterback, running back, two new wide receivers, and three new offensive linemen for next year’s offense.
Travis Thomas is expected to move back to running back next year where he will compete with current freshmen James Aldridge and Munir Prince and incoming freshman Armando Allen for the starting job.