Dylan Walker could see this coming.
His athleticism can’t hide it.
His endurance will help it.
Walker’s roles for Hilldale head coach David Blevins will be many, much in the way another athletic specimen was in Devin Hembry. Hembry was fitted for a graduation cap and took the walk across that stage and out of the Hilldale program last year, so in steps Walker.
“Building up my endurance,” he said when asked about his primary summer objective. “To keep going as long as I can.”
Just like the energizer bunny.
That translates to a two-way player with lots of reps.
Like Hembry, who due to personnel needs became more of a primary ball carrier last year as opposed to a flexible role he had as a junior, Walker could be a running back, a fullback, a slot receiver. As the H-back he, like Hembry was, will be all over the field.
Then he’ll play a guy with lots of range and flexibility of assignment on defense, moving from outside linebacker to safety.
“At our team camp (at Verdigris the day after the spring game), he probably had the best day even though he was a little banged-up at the end, then in 7-on-7 work it’s tough on him because he gets no breaks,” Blevins said.
“His ball skills are unbelievable. The kid can realize what’s going on and he has enough speed to make up ground and what he can’t make up, he can jump.”
Walker was a Class 4A regional champion in the long jump last spring.
“We lost both our starting safeties. The coaches put me back there to help out in the open field,” Walker said. “I like it. I like playing receiver. I like what (Blevins) is trying to do with me and the routes we need to run. He likes to run out routes and the quick game with me, so I get the ball and do whatever I can do.”
This summer, his focus is on more muscle weight and in turn, strength. Oh, and added endurance.
“Watching what I eat to benefit that too,” he said.
Walker had 17 catches for 196 yards in his role as a sophomore with four touchdowns in an offense that was heavy on the run. He led the team in tackles with 65. Expect him to handle return duties as well as he did some a year ago.
Expect him also to carry a leadership role not restricted to leadership by example.
“He’s more vocal,” Blevins said. “He’ll get in your grill and there’s times he’ll let his frustrations get to him, but that’s like anybody. He’s not afraid to let someone know they’re not doing their job.
“As a coach you let that play out. That’s how you develop leadership. You have to have that peer leadership.”
Walker has a certain trigger area for his words.
“When people aren’t hustling,” he said.
And he backs it up.
“I’d say he’s one of our hardest workers,” Blevins said. “And his play certainly allows him to lead by example too.
“I’d say if he keeps doing what he’s doing and what I think he will do, he’ll be a big-time player coming out of here.”