Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Darius Departing? | by Pat

Turns out the press conference tomorrow isn't likely going to be to announce any coaching changes.

According to a TV report on WNDU, it's to announce that Darius Walker is going to pass up his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.

Good luck to him. We'll have much more on this later.


There seems to be some wiggle room in Jeff Jeffers' statement on WNDU.

NewsCenter 16’s Jeff Jeffers spoke to a source very close to Darius Walker. “That source told me Darius will very likely test the NFL waters, and enter April's draft,” Jeff Jeffers explains.
Underclassmen need to submit paperwork to the NFL if they plan to enter the draft. The deadline is January 15th. There is, however, a grace period where the player can decide to forgo the draft and return to school without losing any eligibility. That deadline for returning to school is January 18th. It's possible that it will be announced tomorrow that he is merely 'testing the waters', but it sure sounds like he has a plan to enter the draft.

We'll talk more about this surprising development once the conference is over and more facts and quotes are out there, but to me this is a reasonable, if not smart, move on Walker's part. With a new QB, new WRs, and a new OL next year, he'd be the only known commodity for the Irish offense and opposing defenses would be gunning for him. In addition, every running back only has so many carries in him, and Walker has carried the ball a whole lot in his career at ND (he's already 3rd all-time at ND in career carries). Darius likely knows he's not a 1st-round draft pick now, but he also knows he won't be one next year. A 3rd/4th/5th-round slot now with a team that knows how to use him is better than the possibility of him dropping even lower next year. And with his performance against the LSU defense, he's certainly leaving on a high note.

The impact to ND's offense next year is that there will be unproven players at just about every position. Some of you may be excited about wiping the slate clean and given a lot of fresh faces a shot. I know I am. But not having Darius Walker anymore is not good news for the team, regardless of how excited you are about James Aldridge, Armando Allen, or even an increased role for Travis Thomas.