Now, starting in January, Walker — who played cornerback and ran track for Washington State in the Pac-12 Conference — is launching the first-ever defensive backs-focused NFL combine training prep.
According to Walker, he first became inspired during his training sessions with Peppers, Holmes and the rest of his pupils over the summer.
“My NFL guys inspired me. Just from working with Jabrill (Peppers), Darnay (Holmes) and the other guys, I started jotting some things down,” Walker told Giants Wire in an exclusive phone interview.
“All of these guys are talented, but it comes down to what they are being taught. I brought that philosophy to all of my guys including Peppers and Holmes and they believed in it. They are definitely going to come back for the offseason development program I have.”
Peppers had a Pro Bowl caliber season setting career-highs in tackles (91), passes defensed (11), sacks (2.5) and tackles for a loss (eight) to go along with one interception. And Holmes put together a solid rookie year of his own with five passes defensed, 30 tackles, a half sack and an interception in 12 games at the slot corner position.
For those who are unfamiliar, Walker and Peppers’ relationship stems all the way back to when Walker used to coach football and track at Paramus Catholic high school in north jersey, where Peppers starred in both sports from 2012-13.
“I used to be a teacher and working with kids made me realize how you need to put things into layman’s terms for them. The way I teach the DB position is the same approach, we all learn differently,” he said.
And while the former teacher conducted his previous offseason training with minimal help, this time Walker has gathered the proper resources and personnel to assist him in producing a successful combine program.
In order to help prepare a number of college defensive backs, Walker has put together a strong staff to help him launch this new and unique camp. Joining him as a partner is Alexa Batista, who has worked with several current and former NFL stars.
Walker referred to Batista as a “great developer” and her expertise will be utilized in sports management, athletic development and as a performance specialist, strength and conditioning coach and sports nutritionist.
Rounding out their staff will be: Kerri Czorniewy (LMT , RYT, Massage Therapist), Aaron Eason (Strength and Conditioning, Performance Specialist), George Flores (Strength and Conditioning, Personal Training, Performance Coach), Dr. Natty Bandasak (DPT, CSCS, Doctor of Physical Therapy), Jonathan Walton (Sports Nutrition, Executive Chef), Dr. Jae Vanessa Sanchez (Medical Doctor) and DB assistant Chucky Wingate (Former Pro Player and Division I Cornerback).
As CEO and Founder of the first ever combine prep for defensive backs, Walker wants to give his college players the best available resources and help them go through the least stressful process when it comes to preparing for their pro days and the NFL combine.
“For me, it’s about training them physically and mentally to prepare them for the pro-life. I went through the process and it’s very stressful going through pro days and combines. It’s a rare case when you get the focus on one position,” he said.
“I have a lot of young guys playing college football right now. There’s never been a position base geared towards one group. It allows the focus to be centralized. I’ve also invited linebackers to include the hybrid position, as well. Playing defensive back requires specific movement and film work and it’s a lot of phases all in one. My NFL guys will be coming to help out, as well.
“We are getting them prepared for the pre, during, and post process. There’s nothing else like it. I was lifting with linemen during my pro day, it wasn’t required for what I needed to do and how I was going to move. It’s a movement-based pattern. One minute, you’re trying to cover a receiver and the next you might be trying to tackle a running back. I’m excited for the process, it’s new and innovative. We don’t have this anywhere else and especially to do it in the north jersey/east coast area.
“It’s going to be about mental rather than physical. The goal is to get into the NFL and be successful. That’s the premise of what we are trying to do. It’s by DBs, for DBs.”
As Walker went on to note, the true challenge is taking a player with a seventh round grade and helping them become a first round pick.
“The goal is to prepare these players for anything. We will even have Olympic coaches helping out with speed work, along with guys from other successful combine areas, and a former NFL front office employee to come to help with some of the combine questions,” he added.
Walker and his staff plan to kick things off in mid-to-late January and will host this camp at an indoor facility located in the Clifton, New Jersey area not far from Metlife stadium.
While he is still finalizing the talent roster, Walker plans on splitting these guys up into several groups due to the NFL’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.