He wore only a towel around his waist, and beads of water were dripping off his massive shoulders onto the locker room floor. But while the rest of the Army football team was buttoning gray dress uniforms and stowing helmets and pads in canvas equipment bags, Gerald Walker was smiling as he told the Gerald Walker story for the thousandth time.
He had just written the latest chapter: a 151-yard, two-touchdown performance that led the Cadets to a 27-13 victory over Harvard. But for the benefit of those newly acquainted with Gerald Walker, he started at the beginning with a high school junior in Greenville, S.C. who decided his future was not in football but academics.
"I saw no scholarships on the horizon, so after my sophomore year I put football out of my mind and tried to stick with the academic side," he said, pulling on a pair of pants as he talked.
"When I graduated, I joined the Army. I figured it had opportunities just like any other career."
Walker traded in his football uniform for an enlisted man's fatigues and within a year he found himself about as far from South Carolina as you can get--South Korea.
"Korea was a different life, and it took some time to get used to it," Walker said. "Actually, the most exciting thing about it was coming home." When the opportunity arose to apply to West Point, Walker jumped at it. "I was enlisted and, you know, looking for good ways to advance myself. Anyone unmarried and under 21 can apply--you just have to take a lot of academic tests."
That July, the 20-year-old reported for duty as a plebe at West Point. He also reported for football tryouts.
"I just felt I wanted to get back into it," Walker said, and even though he hadn't played in years, he stuck with the varsity. "The first year, he played simply because he was such a good athlete," says Cadet coach Ed Cavanaugh. "Obviously, he's improved."
Last year, he played simply because he was one of the finest backs in the East. He piled up four 100-yard games en route to a 917-yard season, seventh-best in Cadet history.
He also ranked third on the team in pass receptions, scored six touchdowns and was the recipient of Cavanaugh's Coaches' Award, presented annually to "the player who has exemplified the most courageous attitude during the football season."
This season, Walker has already rushed for almost 500 yards in four games, including 170 against Brown last week. Saturday, he iced Army's win by carrying eight times in the Cadet's ten-play, fourth-quarter scoring drive, finally romping over from the five to put his squad up by 14 with less than three minutes left.
But despite his success in the sport (and remember, he's only a junior), Walker still sees football as a dead end. "I have no future in football whatsoever," he says, and talks of a lifelong Army commitment.
He has finished dressing now and is ready to join his teammates outside. Still, he is surrounded by reporters who want to know all there is about Gerald Walker. Did he mind carrying the ball so much?
"No, I wasn't tired," he is saying. "As long as we're getting three and four yards a play, we'll have short yardage to get on third down. So, there's no reason to do anything else."
There was no reason to do anything else.
Black Knights MX Gridders, 27-13Army's star running back Gerald Walker ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cadets to a 27-13
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