UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State senior captain Von Walker came in for special praise today from Nittany Lion football coach James Franklin.
The occasion was Franklin’s weekly press conference and he was asked about Walker’s contributions and leadership qualities in his four years on the team. Franklin responded:
“Obviously he’s had a big role on special teams for us the last three years, been a special teams captain for two years. He’s a tremendous leader for us. Yeah, I mean, to say it’s not going to have an effect, it is, no different than what we’ve lost with starting offensive linemen. He’s been a starter for us. He’s what [special teams] Coach [Charles] Huff characterizes as a Nekton, one of our core special teams guys. He’s embraced it, he really has.
“I think his first couple years, he was still chasing the linebacker opportunity and things like that. That’s great. We wanted him to do that. We also wanted him to approach and realize how much of an impact he could have on the team on special teams.
“I think a lot of times with high school guys, the star players don’t play special teams in high school. It takes some time to get everybody to buy in to the importance of special teams in college football and the next level, the NFL. Von has really kind of figured that out over the last year and a half. He’s done a great job for us.
“I mentioned after the game in the locker room, he’s the one that kind of spoke to the team after the win last week. I just mentioned to him that not only has Von had a significant role on our team the last two and a half years, but he’ll continue to have a significant role moving forward from a leadership perspective and those types of things.”
The Central Mountain graduate suffered a season-ending ACL and meniscus tear in his left knee in Penn State’s win over Rutgers last Saturday. He is scheduled for surgery in the near future, the injury requiring six months to a year of rehabilitation.