Alvin Walker
No. 32, 33
Born:(1954-09-11)September 11, 1954
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Died:April 13, 2022(2022-04-13) (aged 67)
Austin, Texas, U.S.
Career information
Position(s)RB
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight191 lb (87 kg)
CollegeTexas A&M
NFL draft1976 / Round: 11 / Pick: 311
Drafted byHouston Oilers
Career history
As player
1976Houston Oilers
1978Toronto Argonauts
1979Montreal Alouettes
1979–1980Saskatchewan Roughriders
1980–1981Montreal Alouettes
1982–1984Ottawa Rough Riders
1985Green Bay Packers
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star1982, 1983

Alvin Ray "Skip" Walker (September 11, 1954 – April 13, 2022) was an American professional football running back who played five seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for the Montreal Alouettes and Ottawa Rough Riders. He played college football at Texas A&M and was selected in the 11th round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. He also spent time with the Toronto Argonauts, Saskatchewan Roughriders, and Green Bay Packers.

Early life and education

Walker was born on September 11, 1954, in Houston, Texas.[1] He attended Del Valle High School, where he competed in football, track, and basketball. His coach Tom Walker described him as "the best athlete I've ever coached."[2] In football, Walker averaged over 100 yards per game.[3]

Walker committed to Texas A&M University in February 1972.[3] As a freshman, Walker started in eight games for the Texas A&M football team, and placed third in rushing with 78 carries for 311 yards and three touchdowns.[4][5] In a 45–10 win over SMU as a sophomore, Walker ran for 181 yards and scored two touchdowns.[6] He finished the year with 618 rushing yards and was named all-conference by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.[7][8]

In the third game of his junior year, Walker scored three touchdowns and ran for 53 yards in a win over Washington.[9] Two weeks later, against Texas Tech, he compiled 181 rushing yards on 21 carries and scored three touchdowns in the second quarter alone.[10] By week six, he had become the conference's leading rusher, with teammate Bubba Bean in second place.[11] At the end of the season, Walker was named honorable mention All-Southwest Conference (SWC) by United Press International.[12]

As a senior, Walker helped Texas A&M start off 10–0 and finish as conference co-champions with a record of 10–2.[13]

Walker was nicknamed "Skip." "My dad was a military man and called us by names like Captain, Chief, Skipper etc. The name Skip was used frequently for me. When Texas A&M Coach Emory Bellard recruited me and came to the house, he heard my folks calling me Skip so when I got to university, Coach Bellard called me Skip from day one. In fact, the name on the back of my jersey was "S. Walker." The rest is history," he said.[14]

Professional career

After graduating, Walker was selected in the 11th round (311th overall) of the 1976 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers.[15] His contract with the Oilers was negotiated by his father, as he did not hire an agent.[16] He was released in training camp.[17] While a free agent, Walker was a football coach and teacher at Levi Frye Junior High School while continuing to work out.[13]

In 1978, Walker briefly had a stint with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL), but did not make the final roster.[18]

In 1979, Walker was signed by the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, but was released on the final day before the regular season began. He was picked up on waivers by the Saskatchewan Roughriders but was not activated and later released.[13] In 1980, he was re-signed by the Roughriders.[13] In June, he was traded back to Montreal by Saskatchewan, where he made the final roster.[18] In the second game of the season, Walker averaged 18.8 yards per rush with five carries for 94 yards and made eight catches for 86 yards in a loss to the Calgary Stampeders.[19] In week four against his former team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Walker recorded 22 rushes for 96 yards and scored his team's only touchdown in the 18–10 win.[20] On October 12, in a win over the Ottawa Rough Riders, he scored two touchdowns and ran for 85 yards on 15 carries.[21] In the Eastern Semi-Final playoff game against Ottawa, Walker scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter and also scored on a 73-yard touchdown run.[22] The Alouettes lost in the Eastern Finals to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Walker finished the year with 114 rushes for 692 yards and nine touchdowns.[23] He also recorded 34 receptions for 511 yards and one touchdown, and made 17 kickoff returns for 434 yards.[23]

Overall, in 1981, Walker had a very limited role due to the signing of David Overstreet, who became starter and was given most of the carries. Walker recorded just 54 rushing yards on the year, scoring no touchdowns. Receiving, he made 11 catches for 116 yards with a long of 32. He also returned four kickoffs for 77 yards.[24]

On July 3, 1982, Walker was acquired by the Ottawa Rough Riders in a trade.[25] He played his first game with Ottawa on July 17 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, after being ruled out for the first game of the year.[26] He was described as the "only really lively offensive performer" in the 14–20 loss to Hamilton, gaining 90 yards and scoring on an 18-yard pass play.[27][28] In the following week against the Montreal Concordes, Walker caught three passes for 112 yards in a 55–5 win, scoring on a 96-yard touchdown pass, the longest offensive play of his career.[1][29][30] By the third game of the season, he had made 34 carries and gained 194 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards, and scored four touchdowns.[31] By the end of week eight, he had the CFL lead in rushing yards with 401.[32] In a loss to the Edmonton Eskimos in week nine, Walker recorded 15 rushes for 105 yards and was described as Ottawa's "lone bright spot."[33] Walker scored two touchdowns and made 97 yards rushing, 128 yards receiving in a win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on September 24.[34] By week 11, he led the CFL in touchdowns with 11, placed second in the league in rushing and made 23 pass receptions for 417 yards.[35] In a win over the Calgary Stampeders on October 23, Walker ran 27 times for 203 yards and scored four touchdowns, becoming the first CFL player of the season to achieve 1,000 rushing yards.[36] He scored two touchdowns and ran for 113 yards in a 34–32 win the following week against the Montreal Concordes, clinching a playoff spot for Ottawa while eliminating the Concordes.[37] Walker finished the regular season as the league's leading rusher and touchdown scorer, earning a first-team spot on the CFL All-Star team.[38] In the Eastern Semi-Final playoff game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, he "ran like no running back in Canadian Football League playoff history," gaining 253 rushing yards (the highest playoff total and third-highest ever) on 30 carries and scoring one touchdown in a 30–20 win.[39][40] Despite him running for 87 yards and scoring a touchdown in the Eastern Final playoff game against the Toronto Argonauts, the Rough Riders lost 7–44.[41] He finished the season with 210 rush attempts for 1141 yards and 13 touchdowns, while making 28 catches for 536 yards and five touchdowns.[1] He also returned 13 kickoffs for 288 yards.[1]

In January 1983, Walker signed a four year contract extension with the Rough Riders.[42] He recorded 111 rushing yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns in the first game of the season, a 26–25 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.[43] Trailing 9–13 in week three against the Calgary Stampeders, Ottawa coach George Brancato called up Walker for a trick play at the Stampeders' 24 yard line.[44] Rather than run the ball, Walker received the hand-off and attempted to pass.[44] However, Calgary realized the trick play and put him under heavy pressure, leading him to throw an interception to defensive back Terry Irvin.[45] The Stampeders scored on their next drive and Ottawa was not able to come back, eventually losing 16–27.[44] He finished the game with 182 rushing yards, nearly 100 more than the total of the two Calgary starters at running back.[45] In a week six loss to the Toronto Argonauts, Walker was "smothered by aggressive Toronto defenders almost every time he was given the ball" and had negative-one yards rushing, although he did score one touchdown.[46] After a five game losing streak, the Rough Riders recorded their second win of the season the following week, 17–14 against the Edmonton Eskimos, with Walker recording 94 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards.[47]

By the end of the Rough Riders' seventh game, Walker had the league lead in rushing yards with 587, had five of the team's 11 touchdowns, and had made 14 catches for 157 yards.[48] In their eighth game, a 49–19 win over the BC Lions, Walker made 11 rushes and gained 167 yards, a 15-yard average.[49] In the first half alone of the next game, a loss by one point to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, he made 91 yards.[50] He scored one touchdown and gained 106 rushing yards in a win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the following game.[51] One week later, Walker surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in a win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.[52] After going down 11–21 versus the Calgary Stampeders, Walker returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in one of the longest plays of his career.[53] He also ran for 108 yards in the game, a 29–24 win.[53] For his performance, he was named CFL Offensive Star of the Week.[54] On October 23, in a 20–19 win over Toronto, Walker ran for 145 yards and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner with seconds left to play.[55] He finished the season with 1,431 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, leading the league and earning a spot on the CFL All-Star team.[56] Walker also made 28 receptions for 317 yards and 19 kickoff returns for 489 yards.[1] His 1,431 rushing yards were an Ottawa record that stood until 1991, when it was broken by Reggie Barnes in an 18-game season (the season Walker played in was 16 games).[57] Ottawa was upset in the Eastern Semi-Final playoff game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 31–33, with Walker running for 118 yards on 11 rushes in the game.[58]

Walker missed the first game of the 1984 season due to an ankle injury.[59] He came back for their game with the Calgary Stampeders, but only gained 53 yards on 20 carries.[60] In a week four win over the Montreal Concordes, Walker suffered a broken ankle that kept him out for most of the season.[61] Tim McCray, his replacement, performed so well that the Rough Riders didn't activate Walker until a while after he was healthy, although the rest of the team did not perform well, winning none of their first seven games after his injury.[62][63] When finally activated, he had a very limited role, with McCray having taken the starting position.[64] Walker finished the season with just 256 rushing yards on 69 carries, scoring only one touchdown as the Rough Riders finished 4–12 and missed the playoffs.[65]

Walker was waived by the Rough Riders in May 1985.[66] He was later signed by the Green Bay Packers in the National Football League, but was released in late July.[67] He subsequently retired.[57]

Later life and death

After retiring from football, Walker returned to Austin, Texas, where he opened a restaurant named Hoover's[68] and became a coach at Reagan High School.[69] Walker died of cancer on April 13, 2022, at the age of 67.[57][68][70]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Skip Walker Stats". Pro Football Archives.
  2. ^ Rice, Tom (March 30, 1972). ""Skipper"—"The Best Ever"". The Austin American. p. 43 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  3. ^ a b "Cards' Star Alvin Walker Picks Aggies". Austin American-Statesman. February 14, 1972. p. 26 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  4. ^ Rice, Tom (December 14, 1972). "Hardeman Rambles In Ghostly Fashion". The Austin American. p. 74 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  5. ^ Breazeale, George (July 22, 1973). "A&M 'Kiddie Korps' Awaits Season". The Austin American. p. 56 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  6. ^ "Aggies Crunch SMU By 45-10". The Brownsville Herald. United Press International. November 11, 1973. p. 17 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  7. ^ Truly, Pat (December 2, 1973). "8 Raiders on SWC Star Squad". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. p. 37 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  8. ^ Donnelly, Barry (December 1, 1973). "'The Aggies Will Be Back' In 1974". The Eagle. p. 11. open access
  9. ^ "Husky Rally Not Enough". The Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. September 29, 1974. p. 39 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  10. ^ "Aggies thrash Tech, 28-7". Brownwood Bulletin. Associated Press. October 13, 1974. p. 15 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  11. ^ "Aggies Cut Down TCU 17-0". Clovis News-Journal. United Press International. October 20, 1974. p. 29 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  12. ^ "Beaird Paces All-SWC". Longview News-Journal. United Press International. December 1, 1974. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  13. ^ a b c d Arnett, Paul (April 27, 1980). "TC coach bound for Canadian grid". The Galveston Daily News. p. 36 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  14. ^ Evraire, Ken (September 4, 2014). "CFL Ottawa Alumni's 5th Quarter Profile: Alvin 'Skip' Walker". Ottawa Redblacks.
  15. ^ "National Football League Draft". The Post-Crescent. Associated Press. April 10, 1976. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  16. ^ "No agent for Skip Walker". Corpus Christi Times. Associated Press. June 17, 1976. p. 19 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  17. ^ McRae, Earl (October 5, 2010). "Ex-Ottawa star still has Skip in his step". Ottawa Sun. Retrieved January 1, 2011.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ a b Zurkowsky, Herb (July 5, 1980). "Perseverance finally pays off for Alouettes' speedy Walker". The Gazette. p. 75 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  19. ^ Abbott, Scott (July 17, 1980). "Als refuse to panic despite sloppy start". The Ottawa Journal. p. 20 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  20. ^ Ferguson, Derek (August 7, 1980). "CFL trade inspires Walker". Star-Phoenix. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  21. ^ Casey, Tom (October 14, 1980). "Loss to Larks leaves Rider coach incensed". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 31 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  22. ^ "Riders' last gasp gassed". Edmonton Journal. The Canadian Press. November 10, 1980. p. 20 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  23. ^ a b "1980 Montreal Alouettes (CFL)". Pro Football Archives.
  24. ^ "1981 Montreal Alouettes (CFL)". Pro Football Archives.
  25. ^ Casey, Tom (July 5, 1982). "Simmons out as Riders name roster". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 26 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  26. ^ Casey, Tom (July 10, 1982). "Brancato decides to go with new receiver". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 19 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  27. ^ Coleman, Jim (July 19, 1982). "Cats don't look as strong after two so-so CFL games". North Bay Nugget. p. 16 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  28. ^ "Tiger-Cats shade Rough Riders". North Bay Nugget. July 19, 1982. p. 16 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  29. ^ Bacon, Dick (July 30, 1982). "Rookie Issac sets passing record as Riders thrash Concordes 55-5". The Gazette. p. 12 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  30. ^ "Riders blow out Concordes, 55-5". The Windsor Star. The Canadian Press. July 30, 1982. p. 23 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  31. ^ MacCabe, Eddie (August 10, 1982). "Finally, Walker is in right place at right time". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 15 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  32. ^ Turchansky, Ray (September 2, 1982). "Eskimos let Cole slip away". Edmonton Journal. p. 51 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  33. ^ "Take that, CBC Journal". The Sault Star. The Canadian Press – via Newspapers.com. open access
  34. ^ "Skip Walker finds his own football spotlight". Calgary Herald. The Canadian Press. September 25, 1984. p. 34 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  35. ^ Casey, Tom (September 29, 1982). "Rider star Walker seeking $85,000 in new pay deal". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 29 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  36. ^ Casey, Tom (October 25, 1982). "Riders run Stamps into ground". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 29 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  37. ^ "Skip savors revenge". Edmonton Journal. The Canadian Press. November 1, 982. p. 43 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  38. ^ Casey, Tom (November 4, 1982). "Kicker Gerry Organ happiest of them all as seven Riders named to All-Star team". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 39 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  39. ^ Casey, Tom (November 15, 1982). "Rip-roaring Riders tame Ticats as Walker runs into record book". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 25 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  40. ^ MacCabe, Eddie (November 15, 1982). "Starkey sparks minor miracle". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 25 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  41. ^ Casey, Tom (November 22, 1982). "Riders Overwhelmed: 'It would have taken a miracle'". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 29 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  42. ^ "Ottawa signs Walker". Star-Phoenix. The Canadian Press. January 26, 1983. p. 52 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  43. ^ "Ottawa's Watts shows old form". Star-Phoenix. The Canadian Press. July 9, 1983. p. 18 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  44. ^ a b c Maki, Allan (July 22, 1983). "Walker should stick to running". Calgary Herald. p. 58 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  45. ^ a b Simmons, Steve (July 22, 1983). "And now a message from Terry". Calgary Herald. p. 59 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  46. ^ "Argos roll over Rough Riders". Nanaimo Daily News. The Canadian Press. August 20, 1983. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  47. ^ Casey, Tom (August 27, 1983). "Riders leave Eskimo fans howling at Moon". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 65 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  48. ^ "Opposing coaches worried about Watts". Whitehorse Daily Star. The Canadian Press. September 2, 1983. p. 26 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  49. ^ "Lions blown away by Rough Riders". Nanaimo Daily News. The Canadian Press. September 3, 1983. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  50. ^ Hughes, Bob (September 10, 1983). "Another One!". The Leader-Post. p. 23 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  51. ^ "Riley chases referee". The Kingston Whig-Herald. The Canadian Press. September 26, 1983. p. 10 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  52. ^ "Hard man to stop". Calgary Herald. October 4, 1983. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  53. ^ a b "Two games for price of one". Red Deer Advocate. The Canadian Press. October 11, 1983. p. 28 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  54. ^ "Walker runs away with star award". The Ottawa Citizen. The Canadian Press. October 14, 1983. p. 24 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  55. ^ Casey, Tom (October 24, 1983). "Riders work last-minute magic on Argos". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 33 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  56. ^ "Statistical Story". Star-Phoenix. November 8, 1983. p. 24 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  57. ^ a b c "Two-time CFL all-star RB Alvin 'Skip' Walker passes away at 67". 3 Down Nation. April 13, 2022.
  58. ^ "Winnipeg, Hamilton reach division finals". Alberni Valley Times. The Canadian Press. November 14, 1983. p. 8 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  59. ^ "Former buddies to renew acquaintances". Red Deer Advocate. The Canadian Press. July 7, 1984. p. 22 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  60. ^ "Saturday's Game". The Leader-Post. July 13, 1984. p. 41 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  61. ^ MacCabe, Eddie (July 23, 1984). "Coming of age for the Riders". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 31 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  62. ^ Drinnan, Greg (September 29, 1984). "McCray has come on". The Leader-Post. p. 43 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  63. ^ Elliott, Bob (September 20, 1984). "Rough Riders will have to learn without Walker, for now". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 43 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  64. ^ Wood, Larry (October 14, 1983). "Serving up a sporting feast". Calgary Herald. p. 33 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  65. ^ "1984 Ottawa Rough Riders (CFL)". Pro Football Archives.
  66. ^ Casey, Tom (May 15, 1985). "Phillips, Walker don't fit in Riders' plans, waived through CFL". The Ottawa Citizen. p. 79, 80 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  67. ^ "Football". Wisconsin State Journal. July 30, 1985. p. 16 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  68. ^ a b "Former Texas A&M running back Skip Walker passes away". KBTX-TV. Texas A&M Sports Information. April 15, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  69. ^ "Del Valle football great is back for homecoming". Austin American-Statesman. October 1, 1987. p. 40 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  70. ^ "Alvin Ray (Skip) Walker Obituary". Tribute Archive.