• John Macon Gillespie

Walker Becoming Sack Master

Few defenders were as prolific at getting to the opposing quarterback as Houston junior defensive lineman Johnta Walker. Furthermore, he took up permanent residence in the backfield of his opponents.

He finished the season having gotten to the quarterback 19 times. In addition to his insane 19 sacks, he also accumulated 24 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hurries. He tallied a sack in 11 of his teams 14 games, getting at least two sacks in six game. Three was his sack-high for a game last season and he did that twice.

“I just worked hard and had a lot of motivation. I set a goal for 10 sacks and just tried to get it. And chased it to get 19. I just really work hard,” Walker told SES Mississippi.

When you set a goal of 10 sacks for your junior season and you nearly double it, setting a goal for your senior season can be tough, but not for Walker. He wants to get 25 sacks in 2016. Which would be video-game type numbers in Mississippi 4A football.

Walker could be a terror for those who will be trying to block him when he performs at the April 30th Fortius Project combine at ICC. He plans to use his best asset to get around and by defenders.

“My speed, I’ll just try to be the first to move before my opponents move,” He said. “I’m just glad to have the chance to compete against some of the best players around. I just love to compete and learn.”

He’s not satisfied, however, stating he wants to get faster and learn how to shade some time off his 40-yard dash while at Fortius. Improving his footwork is also on his mind. He even singled out a few of his teammates that are coming to Fortius that he feels will shine. He named three fellow juniors in Taylor Baskin, Omario Johnson and Jalon Gates. Each of those guys join him as the core of the Topper defense.

An interesting development for Walker will be that he will be trying out running back while working at Fortius. He has some experience on the offensive side of the ball but see opportunity for more involvement. His skills and size set up well for the running back position, so it should be something to keep a keen eye on.

Walker has high hopes for what his team can do next season. He says it is a season that he has watched his team build towards in recent years.

“This year will be a ring season,” Walker said. “The team has grown every season. We work hard, we’re well-disciplined and we have good team leaders. So I don’t see anything in the way as long as we keep working from now until August. We should be great.”

The Hilltoppers won a playoff game for just the second time in their history last season. They actually doubled their program’s playoff win history by advancing twice last fall.

**Photo by Stacey Parker.

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