Vance Walker, a 2005 graduate of Fort Mill High School, has been drafted into the NFL by the Atlanta Falcons. Walker, listed as nearly 6-3 and 305 pounds by ESPN.com, has anchored a defensive tackle position for most of his career at Georgia Tech.
He was the first selection of the seventh and final round of this weekend's draft. The Falcons are a division rival of Walker's hometown Carolina Panthers.
Walker was an academic and football standout for the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets before he accepted a scholarship to play for the GT Yellow Jackets.
“I couldn't have asked for a better place,” Walker said Sunday night. “Now I can just concentrate on football instead of having to worry about learning a new city and all that.”
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Prior to the draft, Walker had heard teams saying he might go in the third or fourth round. But some injuries during his senior year and the pre-draft process caused his stock to sink a bit. He was still hoping for the fifth or sixth round, but the longer the day went, his hopes began to fade.
By mid-afternoon, he was frustrated enough he left the draft party at his agent's Atlanta home and began to drive back to his apartment in suburban Duluth.
“I had to get out of there and do something fun,” he said. “I just couldn't sit there and watch anymore.”
The plan was to hit a nearby Jillian's and bowl a few games, but before he could rent shoes, the Falcons called.
“It was a very stressful day,” he said. “A very crazy day, but it worked out. As soon as I started driving, naturally the phone rang.”
Walker's still not a lock to make the roster, but is encouraged that what the Falcons are asking of him is similar to what he did at Georgia Tech. They're asking him to play the “three-technique” tackle spot, which involves using his quickness to try to get to the quarterback. He displayed plenty of that his junior year at Georgia Tech, when he posted 8.5 sacks.
"We've been in Atlanta celebrating," Janet Walker, Vance's mother, said Monday. "We're truly excited and feel so blessed. We're so proud of Vance and we're truly appreciative of the way Fort Mill has treated him."