Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Notre Dame football.

Thursday, January 11

Walker Leaving to Enter NFL Draft

Darius Walker has provided a post-Sugar Bowl shock -- he's skipping his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

To this we say -- are you kidding me?

Yes, we can understand someone like Reggie Bush or JaMarcus Russell or Dwayne Jarrett making the move. But Darius Walker? Yes, he's a good back. Yes, he can play in the NFL. The junior has, after all, rushed for more than 3,200 yards and had consecutive seasons of more than 1,100 yards. He was on pace to break Autry Denson's school rushing record of 4,318 yards. And he demonstrated his versatility by catching more than 100 passes in his last two seasons.

Still, at 5-11 and 205 pounds, he does not dominate games. Another season would help his development and, you would think, his draft stock.

That, it seems, won't happen.

Walker said it's been his dream to play in the NFL.

"It's the right thing to go on now rather than wait," he said.

Coach Charlie Weis didn't have much to say about it (in fact, Notre Dame officials told the media not to bother him during a book signing in South Bend tonight) except this released statement: "He guaranteed he would graduate in the near future. Although disappointed, we wish him nothing but the best."

Walker said he only made this decision after careful consideration. He said the fact Notre Dame is losing a lot of offensive players to graduation, and the fact he might have to share playing time next season, were not factors.

"This was not a blind move for me. It's not something just all of a sudden I woke up one day, hey, let me go to the NFL and see if I can make it. It's definitely something that I put time and research in, something that I feel is right now."

Feeling right doesn't make it right. We'll get a better idea about that come April.

In the meantime, Weis announced that nine players with a final year of eligibility have asked permission to return, including safety Tom Zbikowski, center John Sullivan, defensive end Trevor Laws and linebacker Travis Thomas.


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