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2024 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Larry Walker Jr., DB, Albany

Larry Walker Jr. is a versatile DB/Hybrid from Albany who recently sat down with Nick DiMeglio of Draft Diamonds.
Larry Walker Jr. is a versatile DB/Hybrid from Albany who recently sat down with Nick DiMeglio of Draft Diamonds.
  • Name: Larry Walker Jr.
  • School: UAlbany
  • Position: DB/Hybrid
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 197
  • Instagram@_larry14
  • Twitter@Larry14WalkerJr

1) Where are you from, walk us through your journey
I’m from a small town named Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. You know, small town, big heart—and my journey was really unique in a way. I started playing football at the age of four, and I was never the biggest, the fastest, or even the strongest, you know, but I somehow always made my way onto the football field, and I was never like a star player. A couple of years go by, I go to high school, and I end up getting into the weight room. You know, working hard despite all the doubters trying to say that I won’t be one of those guys on the varsity level to make plays and to be that guy. I ended up getting the starting job at safety my junior season. I had a good junior season and got some Division I offers after that season. Then I ended up committing to Albany in November of my senior year.

2) Tell us about your days in high school playing basketball and running track and if you think that has helped you in your defensive play?
It’s funny you bring this up because I actually started in a basketball game before I started a football game. I was a starting guard from my sophomore season all the way up to my senior season. In track, I always triple jumped and long jumped since freshman year, and then I became the alternate my senior year on the 4×100 relay team. Both sports definitely helped me in my defensive play. Basketball helped improve my lateral quickness because, you know, I play safety and you have to guard little shifty guys in the slot, and that’s a dangerous game to play if you’re not at the top of your game. During my years of playing basketball, I always guarded the best player or the second-best player, and I just used the footwork and lateral quickness I gained from there and applied it to football. Track definitely helped with my elongated speed and helped me kick into another gear of speed, which I didn’t know I had over the years because I was never a fast guy, but I had great footwork. Track helped me get out of my breaks a lot faster, making me more explosive and improving my understanding of how to run.

3) Who is a guy in the league currently that you model your game after or look up to?
I watch all NFL safeties, but if there was one guy I look up to more than the others and model myself after, it would have to be Tyrann Mathieu. He’s not super big, he’s not super fast, but he knows what’s about to happen before it actually does. And I feel that’s very similar to me because, as I mentioned before, I was never super big, never super fast, but I picked up on a lot of things faster than most and was able to tell where the play was going before it actually happened. On top of that, he’s very versatile in whatever defense he’s in. He can play the high safety, the split safety, the box safety, and cover the slot man-to-man against slot receivers or tight ends. I just feel as if you get more opportunities to make plays when you’re around the ball, and I feel like he’s around the ball a great amount of time during an NFL game. So, I try to pick up everything he does on and off the field because the proof is in the pudding with him, making All-Pros and Pro Bowls and consistently making plays.

4) Tell us about the Albany defense and how you were utilized?
The Albany defense we ran featured a split safety look, base quarters, 4-2-5 look with 4-3 personnel. I played both safety positions—the boundary and the field safety—and I also played nickelback. In my younger years, I was more of a smaller guy, so I played a lot of nickelback my first two years, while boundary safety was my primary position. However, as I got older, there was no field safety who could fill the role of my former teammates, so I was the best fit for the job and played it for a year and a half. But all in all, I feel like my best positions were boundary safety and nickelback. This is simply because I was around the ball more, especially at boundary safety; in our defense, the boundary safety was a primary run fitter in our base defense, so I was able to fit the run and also play the pass. My defensive coordinator in my last year and a half actually had me blitzing off the edge or through the A or B gaps, had me playing the split safety look, had me playing man-to-man on a tight end or slot receiver, and also had me playing some dimeback, as well as having me play the high safety. I did a lot of things, especially in my senior year, because he saw the versatility I had and trusted me because I knew what I was doing as well.

5) When you are studying film, what are the things you focus on to improve your game?
Throughout the course of a game week, I first look at down and distance and the flow of the game’s tendencies. I examine first, second, and third down tendencies based on the distance, whether they like to run the ball on 1st and 10, take a shot on 2nd and 2, or go for the sticks on 3rd and 4, or whatever the case may be. I try to understand whatever that team is doing that week. I also look at player tendencies, starting with the quarterback and the offensive line, because I’m reading the offensive line for run-pass indicators, so I’ll try to pick up on cues like their stances and footwork—it could be anything, honestly, that can give away whether it’s going to be a run or a pass. It’s surprising to even mention this, but then I try to pick up on the quarterback to see if he likes to run after he doesn’t get what he wants, how he reacts when things aren’t going his way—many things show up on film. Then I move on to the receivers and pick up on what moves they like to use, how they handle zone coverage versus man coverage while they’re in their route, whether they are explosive after the catch, simple things like that. I also examine the running backs as well.

6) What are your best traits or attributes that come across on film?
I feel like I’m a physical force when I’m out there. I believe I can play multiple positions, and it shows on film. I can be put in multiple situations and still make a play. I’m capable of running with receivers and tight ends, tackling big backs or scat backs, and making tackles in the open field. I also play the ball really well. My understanding of zone defense is very high on the IQ scale; I know where the work is coming from, I can sense routes developing around me, and I understand how the play is going to unfold. So, all in all, I feel like I’m just a very versatile football player.

7) What weakness(es) do you have as a player and how are you addressing/improving on it?
I feel like my pursuit angles from the backside definitely can improve. Sometimes I take a lower path, and at other times, I take a higher path, so I feel like I should get better at that to be consistent. The way I’m improving is by working on drills, like running the alley from the backside, and putting myself in different situations where I don’t make the same mistake twice. I feel like, due to the defense I was in and its structure, there were moments when I would take my read step for the run or pass and not zone my quarter efficiently. This would lead to routes getting caught behind me when my teammate was guarding a route where I could have made a play or affected the play, even though it wasn’t my responsibility. I feel like improving this will separate me from being just OK to being great. I’m getting better by understanding the game more, watching more NFL tape, and trying to incorporate what I learn into my field workouts, like getting the proper depth—whether it be a quarter, a third, or whatever the coverage may be—so I won’t make the same mistakes whenever I get the call to come into camp.

8) Best memories or moments during your college career?
I’m going to share a personal moment and then a team moment. My personal highlight has to be my pick-six against Hawaii because it was my first touchdown through high school and college, and I did it in Hawaii during a key part of the game. We were down, and it put us up 14-10—it was crazy, once in a lifetime. My favorite team moment has to be when we won the CAA conference championship on senior day, which was the last regular season game. It really hit differently because a lot of people didn’t know the trials and tribulations that we went through as a team and really as a culture leading up to that moment. It was also special because the defense had been striving to get a shutout all season, and we ended up beating Monmouth, which had the nation’s leading rusher and receiver leading up to that game, 41-0. Getting a shutout and a conference championship felt unreal, and coming into the next day, I won’t lie—it was an incredible feeling.

9) What makes your journey to this point different/unique from others?
I would say what makes my journey to this point different from others is that no one ever saw me getting this far in football. All through my life, I was never a star player when it came to football. You know, a lot of older people would tell me, “Oh yeah, you’ll be great in school; you’ll be a great doctor or a lawyer,” while I was working just as hard as my friends, and they were telling my friends they could see them being NFL players. And through it all, even when I was making plays in high school and getting Division I offers, I was still under the radar and overlooked because I guess I didn’t appeal to a lot of people due to my size or my speed. Even through college, I felt like I was never the top guy in terms of nationwide status. I don’t even know if I’m on anybody’s draft board, but through it all, I just kept following the same pattern of staying positive and just controlling what I can really control. Because the film never lied, and neither did the accolades.

10) I know you had your pro day recently – how did that go for you and how was that experience?
The pro day was, all in all, good. I didn’t like how the testing went. You know, there are a lot of factors that could have influenced that, especially based on how we were testing and how the results were being recorded, especially since we only did everything once besides the 40. But I’ve never been much of a tester to begin with. I think the position drills helped me out a ton, especially in catching the eye of the scouts that were there. Everyone was intrigued and focused when I did the position drills, and I spoke to almost every scout that was there, and they said, “they liked what they see.”

11) Tell us about your pre draft training- where did you train, how was it, etc
I been training back at my hometown in Aliquippa, with my cousin Colton Rossi. He’s a certified trainer who is the strength and conditioning coach for Aliquippa high school. He trained professional football players such as Jordan Whitehead, Dravon Askew-Henry, Donovan Jeter, and others as well. It’s been going very well and I don’t just feel bigger faster stronger, I also feel like a better athlete than I was before. 

12) Any shoutouts to any of your guys still back at Albany?
Shoutout to my guy Daesean Winston. He’s going to declare for the NFL draft next year. He’s a great football player but an even better person. He helped me a lot this past year with my professionalism on and off the field. Tune in to him having a big breakout year this year with the best defensive coaching staff in the country.

13) How do you handle challenges in both life and on the football field?
I maintain a positive mindset at all times. I treat everything in my life with a “next play” mindset. No matter what happens, you can never get too high or too low, no matter what the situation may be. I have also deepened my faith in Jesus Christ. I try to read a verse every day and offer a prayer, whether the situation is good or bad, just to keep my relationship strong with Him. Ever since I fully incorporated this mindset in 2023, I’ve started to see better things happen for me.

14) Give one last pitch to all the scouts and evaluators who might be watching the video
To all the scouts and evaluators, if you choose to give me an opportunity at your organization, you won’t regret it. I’m coming in pro-ready and ready to make an impact, no matter what my role is. I’m a natural-born leader who sees the value in my teammates being at their best, as it brings out the best in me and everyone in the organization. I’m a great person to have as part of your organization; I will show up ready to work and accept the role that is presented to me.

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