The Massachusetts Pirates professional arena football team in Worcester, MA have signed former Oklahoma defensive lineman Charles Walker. Walker, 6’4”- 310 lbs. from New Orleans, Louisiana, had a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 but was waived when a knee injury slowed his progress.
Walker appeared in 24 games in three seasons at Oklahoma where he had 53 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, six and a half sacks and one forced fumble. In 2015 he was a second team All-Big 12 Conference selection.
After suffering his third concussion in 2016 Walker decided to leave the Sooners to focus on training for the NFL in California. It was during that time that he was also diagnosis with depression. After making a full recovery he took his shot with the Eagles. Walker says he took it “step by step” during his time away from football and now he’s ready to return.
Everything is great,” Walker said. I feel so much better. I’ve had so much time to focus on my health more than football and that put me in a better place mentally and physically,” he added.
Walker grew up in New Orleans and as a child lived through Hurricane Katrina. Uprooted by the storm, his family moved to Mississippi, California, Texas and back to New Orleans before he finally settled in the Dallas area. His focus was on basketball and he did not start playing football until his sophomore year of high school. As a senior he received national attention and offers from Colorado State, Iowa State and Oklahoma.
Pirates President Jawad Yatim sees unlimited potential in Walker.
"Charles is a great acquisition for us,“ Yatim said. “He played alongside (recent Pirates signee) Du'Vonta Lampkin at Oklahoma, so they have some chemistry on the field already which is always a plus when you’re bringing someone in. He was a projected first day draft pick going into the 2017 NFL draft, if he didn't catch a case of the injury bug things could have been very different for him. When he was out there for the Sooners he excelled, especially his red-shirt sophomore year when he was named All-Big 12 and was one of the sack leaders for the team. One of the things that stood out to me on film though was his ability to get his hands up and bat some balls down at the line of scrimmage. Before his season ended his junior year in 16' he was averaging 1 PBU per game, and for a defensive lineman that's pretty damn good, especially outdoors playing on a larger field. In arena football the quarterbacks get rid of the ball pretty quickly so you’re not always going to get home, but being able to get your hands up, especially in the quick game, is imperative. I am excited to see what he is able to do in a more constricted area playing arena ball. Speaking to him on the phone he is very hungry and motivated to get back on the field and show everyone how productive he can be as a player and I think he will be a great one for us. We’re surely glad to have him," Yatim added.
For Walker, this will be his first time in arena football.
“It’s going to be a transition but at the same time it’s still football,“ Walker said. “I’ll go out there and give it my all, play for the guys next to me and the goal is to get a ring. I’ve very excited to have the opportunity to get back out there, get back on the field and play the game that I love,” he added.
Playing for the Pirates and arena football in general is a viable way for players to get noticed and move on to the next level. Walker agrees but knows he has to take care of the business at hand.
“It definitely is but once you get there you still have to handle business with your team to be in that conversation to get to the next level. I know the perks behind it and the great opportunity there is down the road, but I want to make sure that I worry about what’s going on with the team, how I can better myself as a player and what I can bring to the team and the coaching staff. When the time comes with the opportunity to go to any level, CFL or NFL, I should be at a higher point in my career to go to another league with a ring from the National Arena League as well,” Walker said.
Walker can’t wait to be in the New England area and to get acclimated to his new surroundings.
“I’ve never been that far on the East Coast. It’s a great opportunity. I appreciate the Pirates for giving me this chance. I won’t let the Pirates fans and the organization down whatsoever.”
When he arrives, Walker knows what he’ll do first.
“I’ll make sure I get clothes for the East Coast, jackets and all that to make sure I’m able to deal with the climate. I’m pretty sure it’s very cold over there,” he said.
The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the National Arena League (NAL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. Pirate Nation Season Ticket Memberships for the 2019 season will be on sale in September. Pirate Nation Memberships start as low as $199.00. To become a Pirate Nation Season Ticket member or for more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single game tickets are available online at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For group outings please call Tim Parker at 508-452-MASS (6277) or email email@example.com. Follow the Pirates on facebook at facebook.com/MAPirates on Instagram @mass.pirates, as well as Twitter @mass_pirates.