Walker looking for linebackers who love the game

Posted: April 20, 2017 at 1 a.m.

Arkansas outside linebackers coach Chad Walker goes through practice Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Fayetteville.

Now that Arkansas has switched to the 3-4 defense, a big key to its success will be finding the right type of linebackers to play the four positions.

The Razorbacks already have one linebacker pledge in Lucas (Texas) Lovejoy star Bumper Pool (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), who could play any of the four positions and who chose Arkansas over Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, USC and a host of others.

New Razorback outside linebacker coach Chad Walker made it clear recently what type of linebackers he wants to add, and there are no height and weight specifications.

But they must love what they do.

"I look for guys that can set the edge, guys that can pass rush, guys that play fast, guys that play hard," Walker said. "That kind of stuff. And love the game."

Arkansas is known to have offered linebackers Alston Orji (6-1, 223) of Rockwall, Texas, as well as Rosendo Lewis (6-1, 237) of Deerfield, Fla. and J.J. Peterson (6-2, 210) of Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County.

"I think players come in all lengths," Walker said. "It all just depends on skill sets. There's variety in players. Some guys might be longer that can set an edge, some guys might be long-space players. I don't think there's cookie-cutter molds that you look for."

Walker arrived in Fayetteville after spending last season as a defensive assistant for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, who won the NFC and led in the Super Bowl before New England came storming back for the win.

"I'm excited about being here and I've been really excited about working with these guys," Walker said. "They are certainly not finished prospects.

"Some are better at one thing, some are better at the other, so we are just finding the right place for them, honing their strengths and working on their weaknesses."

Walker, who worked for Alabama coach Nick Saban at both LSU and with the Miami Dolphins, loves the 3-4, but feels like he would be comfortable in any setting.

"I consider myself a football coach," Walker said. "I think there are principles of team defense, schematics. I have been very fortunate to be in every scheme possible I think at one time or another. I have learned a lot of football.

"For me there are different figurations, but you're just a football coach and we put our heads together and go from there."

Walker was asked about what advantages the 3-4 allows a defense.

"You get more players in space and you definitely can get some edge rushers, guys that set the edge and you definitely get more bodies for pressure," he said. "You can't just say this guy is going to come."

Walker will now send a defense against Saban this season.

"He gave me my first opportunity," Walker said. "I am very appreciative, very grateful that he helped aid my career along and opened doors. I have had a ton of mentors ... there are a lot of guys out there that I have deep gratitude for."

Sports on 04/20/2017