He’s a former wide receiver turned defensive back, whose athleticism and technique has both players and coaches alike salivating.
Respected for his willingness to change positions, football IQ and steadfast dedication to his new position, his reputation reverberates across Schembechler Hall. He may not be the biggest name on the Michigan football team, but it wouldn’t be the same without him — sound familiar?
It’s not graduate student Mike Sainristil, though the comparison is uncanny.
It’s sophomore Amorion Walker.
“(Walker) has gifts that a lot of people don’t,” Sainristil said March 9. “He’s 6-foot-3, moves like he’s 5-foot-10. He plays like he’s 225, he’s tall, he’s lengthy. He runs a 4.2, 4.3 (40 yard dash). His skill set is rare.”
While Walker’s physical traits have always drawn eyes, he’s far from a household name. Appearing in six games last season — five at wide receiver and one at defensive back — Walker logged only one singular catch for four yards in his freshman campaign.
A three-star recruit, Walker only remembers noticing his freakish athleticism during his junior and senior years of high school. Calling him a late-bloomer would be disingenuous, but Walker was always advertised as a passion project for the Wolverines. Playing on both sides of the ball throughout his high school career, Walker’s potential was a major selling point.
Despite being initially billed as a wide receiver at the collegiate level, his combination of speed, size and length made it hard for coaches to ignore his defensive past.
“I always wanted to play both ways,” Walker said Thursday. “I still love the defensive side of the ball. That was actually the first position I ever played. So, it’s kind of where I get my background.”
While Walker’s roots may anchor his new position, his last extensive stay at the position came in his high school days. On February 23, Jim Harbaugh called him “a starter, now,” but to Walker’s own accord, he still has ample room to grow.
“I’m trying to lose the receiver tendencies that I have from playing it for a long time,” Walker said. “… Just trying to get back into the DB motion and back to where I used to be before I made the switch.”
Though he began the transition to the defensive side of the ball at the end of last season, Walker still has a ways to go in a variety of areas.
Schematically, both Walker and Sainristil emphasized the importance of learning the playbook for a successful transition. After preferring the wideout position for much of his recent career, Walker has been expeditiously thrust back into a defensive role, forcing him to learn an entirely new set of plays and schemes. Needless to say, he needs to brush up on his homework.
In defensive coordinator Jesse Minter’s play style, the defensive back plays an integral role. Often left on islands in man-to-man coverage, Minter’s corners need length, speed and the ability to stick to their assignments like glue. Even more difficult, in certain situations, Minter utilizes corner blitzes sending his boundary corners after the quarterback unblocked.
Nevertheless, to whom much is given, much is required. And Walker believes he has the tools for the task.
“I definitely am one of the best athletes in the country, for sure,” Walker said. “As far as running and jumping and being able to change direction.”
Walker evidently has the building blocks for success. The final step is piecing them together this offseason. But according to Walker and the Wolverines, that will all come in time.