Football: Anthony Walker looks ahead after making first team All-Big Ten

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Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Anthony Walker (18) makes a tackle against Wisconsin. Walker was recently named first-team all-Big Ten, and some of his teammates say he deserves an All-American nod.

Stephanie Kelly, Managing Editor


Football


Even after a standout season, linebacker Anthony Walker doesn’t take any credit for making first team All-Big Ten.

Instead, it’s the defense’s award, he said.

“I’ll take it for those guys, but they make me look good,” the 6-foot-1-inch, 235-pound sophomore said.

Walker was the only Northwestern player to be named first team, with other players including Dean Lowry, Nick VanHoose, Matthew Harris, Justin Jackson and Dan Vitale getting second- and third- team honors.

Along with making key plays throughout the season, Walker leads the team this year in tackles with 113 — 40 more than the runner-up — and also leads in tackles for loss.

“It’s a great moment,” he said. “I came in with high expectations and big goals this year.”

But Walker is already focusing on what to work on next season. One of his unachieved goals for the season was to win the Butkus Award, given to the best linebacker in college football.

Sophomore safety Godwin Igwebuike said not getting the Butkus is motivation for Walker to get better next season.

“It’s scary to think that he can be better,” Igwebuike said. “He’s great already, but he’s not satisfied. It’s inspiring.”

Next year, Walker will work on improving his footwork and hand placement, he said, adding he has a long way to go.

“I haven’t arrived or done anything spectacular yet,” he said.

His teammates, however, might disagree.

“He’s the leader of one of the best defenses in the country,” sophomore running back Justin Jackson said. “His numbers are better than any other linebacker I’ve seen in the country.”

Walker, known by teammates as “the franchise,” ranks tied for 21st in the country in tackles and tied for second nationally in tackles for loss.

Some of his teammates have started their own micro-campaigns for Walker to get an All-American bid, with Jackson recently beginning the Twitter hashtag #GetAWalkontheStadium — NU honors its All-Americans by putting their names on a facade at Ryan Field — to rally support. Redshirt freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson said he might even start a Twitter account to support the cause.

“He’s done everything possible to help this team win, to help this team get to 10-2,” Jackson said. “It would honestly be ridiculous if he didn’t get the All-American bid.”

Jackson’s Nov. 30 tweet saying “Operation #GetAWalkontheStadium has begun #B1GCats” garnered 23 retweets and 33 likes. Four others Twitter users have also used the hashtag.

Igwebuike said he hadn’t used the hashtag yet but plans to get onboard.

“I’m about to hop on there,” he said. “Gotta go retweet some stuff or something.”

Walker said whether he gets All-American or not, it’s not up to him or NU.

“I love being a part of this team and a part of this football family,” he said. “I’m just having fun with it.”

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Twitter: @StephanieKellyM

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