Madison Prep Academy football coach Michael Roach had a pretty good scouting report on Tyrese Walker before he became a contributing member of the Chargers’ program.
Walker was on the same BREC-league team as Roach’s son Malcolm, now a starter at Texas, when the elder Roach saw the endearing quality he’s valued the most in a football player.
“He was always the smallest guy out there, but he was one of the toughest,” Roach said. “I’m always looking for that tough kid. When I knew I had him, I knew I had a tough kid that could play on both sides.”
Because of his of stature Walker — who is a 5-foot-8, 170-pound junior — has seemed to compensate for a perceived lack of size with a determination to succeed that’s enabled him to become a two-way starter for No. 3 Madison Prep (7-0, 4-0) which travels to No. 10 Dunham (7-0, 4-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
It’s common for Walker, a three-year starter, to be referred to as “Mr. Everything” by Madison Prep’s faithful who applaud his achievements whether they’re at running back, cornerback or on special teams.
In last week’s 54-0 league win over Northeast, Walker was at his all-around best with a pair of touchdown runs, a kickoff return for a TD and interception return for another score.
“As soon as I make a play you hear people calling me that because I do a little bit of everything on the field,” Walker said. “Wherever the ball is, I’m there.”
Walker prefers offense because of his big-play capability that often translates into early leads and sends a jolt of momentum throughout his team.
For the second straight season Walker has already rushed for more 1,000 yards with 88 carries for 1,110 yards — a 12.6-yards per carry average — and 19 touchdowns. A year ago, he led the Chargers with 1,030 yards and 17 TDs on 83 attempts.
“I coached (former Southern Lab and Louisiana Tech standout) John Simon and he’s the closest thing to John —and I’ve coached some good backs,” Roach said of Walker, who carries a 3.2 grade-point average. “He may be not be as fast but maybe has better hips. He may not be as big, but has better change of direction.”
Straight-line speed is part of Walker’s skill set — he estimates a time of 4.5 in the 40-yard dash — but it’s also his vision, balance and strength that have resulted in scholarship offers from Jackson State and Kentucky Christian, along with interest from Louisiana-Lafayette, Kansas and Colorado.
Walker, a reserve guard on Madison Prep’s Class 2A state championship basketball team last year, has displayed an uncanny knack for turning potential negative plays into positive ones and in some cases substantial gains.
“I don’t like negative yards,” Walker said. “I fight harder until I get tired or get tackled.”
Walker’s also a huge asset on Madison Prep’s defense and special teams where his aggressive nature and fearlessness are evident.
The Chargers rely on aggressive, man-to-man coverage from their cornerbacks, which Walker, who has a team-high eight interceptions, can deliver and in most cases against bigger receivers.
Some of Walker’s 35 tackles have come on kickoff coverage where he’s typically among the first players downfield to make a stop.
“It comes from hard work and not taking any days off,” Walker said. “My coaches are on me about being tough and being stronger, and my teammates push me.”
Roach added: “He might be one of the best all-around kids I’ve ever coached.”