“To be successful, an offensive lineman needs to have these five characteristics: intelligence, toughness, work ethic, good character, and athletic ability. A team with five players who have all five of these characteristics will be difficult to beat.” – Rick Trickett, from his book, Complete Offensive Line.
From all accounts, according to this description, the Benton Panthers have one of the best in their senior left tackle, Walker Davis.
Standing 6’4’’ tall, weighing in at 285 pounds, Walker presents an imposing figure for any defense as they watch him break from the huddle and settle in at left tackle.
And that’s exactly what Walker wants the opposing defensive linemen to see.
In fact, one of Walker’s favorite moments as a Panther describes exactly how he feels about the role he plays on this team.
“I remember playing against Parkview and smoking the linebacker, pancaking him and rolling on top, getting a flag for laying on him, showing my dominance.” The quarterback ran for twenty yards, following the block set by Walker.
While Walker was called for a penalty on the play, Benton Panthers Head Coach Brad Harris recalls, “I do remember that play against Parkview. I thought it was a great play by Walker, it was a very dominating block!”
But last year’s Salt Bowl was a particularly tough game.
“The Salt Bowl was rough last year,” Walker recalls. “We struggled the whole game and couldn’t really get it together. I’ve played in two, going on three, Salt Bowls.” Despite the outcome of that game, he remembers a particular moment common to each Salt Bowl. “Running out of the tunnel with 30,000 people yelling and screaming. It is awesome.”
Offensive linemen rarely get the attention they deserve from media and fans. Most of the glory goes to quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. For Walker, this isn’t something upon which he dwells.
“I mean, honestly, someone has to take the credit and it’s 95 percent of the o-line’s fault or success,” he says. “They (offensive line) are the leaders of the team that don’t get very many rewards. I think it is very humbling as a player.”
Coach Harris has recognized this characteristic in Walker. “Walker is one of our team leaders as an upcoming senior. He is not the most vocal guy but does a great job leading by example. Our expectation for Walker this year is to be the leader of our OL, since he is a senior 3-year starter. He will most likely start at left tackle again this year but could possibly slide to guard again. Walker has all the tools you look for to be a great OL – size, speed, strength.”
These very qualities are gaining attention from various colleges and universities who wish to have Walker join their roster. Walker has recently committed to play college football at Arkansas State University. Coach Harris says Walker also had offers from the University of Central Arkansas, Georgia Southern, Liberty University, North Alabama, and Murray State.
Terry Benham has been involved with Panthers football for several years and is very familiar with Walker. “I first started following Walker when he was a freshman at Benton Jr. High. I had heard about him, but when I saw him play I knew he had a chance to be a special talent. Obviously, he looked the part, but he also played with a certain intensity, and that has shown up during the last couple of years when you would see Walker come into the game as a defensive player on key drives. When you have a player that can play at his level, you want that guy on the field. Every game is won at the line of scrimmage, and Walker is the type of player that will force every team we play to begin their game planning with how to handle Walker. That’s not to take away from the other talented guys on that line, but Walker has the potential to be the most dominant lineman in the State of Arkansas by the end of this fall.”
Jim Gardner is part of the radio broadcast crew for Panthers football and is equally impressed with Walker. “One clear memory about Walker I will never forget. His sophomore year we hosted Mountain Home. The Panthers won that game handily and, afterward, I visited with a friend from Mountain Home whose son played on the defensive line opposite Walker. After the game, his comment to his dad was, ‘Dad, we didn’t have a chance. Their tenth-graders are grown men with full beards.’ That’s Walker. Physically imposing, but grown in maturity and leadership equally as impressive.”
Jim has also followed Walker’s family and their involvement in Panthers football. “Walker is the middle brother between older brother Garrett (now a student at the University of Arkansas) and younger brother Drew who will be the starting quarterback for the Benton Freshman team this year. His parents, Andy and Leslie, are bedrocks in the football program. Andy is a member of the Benton Touchdown Club and handles social media posts, and Leslie is a great team mom who’s always organizing team meals, etc.”
Walker has dreams of playing in the NFL. “I don’t really care what team. If not, then I will become some kind of college coach for football.”
But Walker sums up his love for the game and his approach to the future.
“Football brings out the real man in someone, seeing if he will stay down or get back up. It’s the greatest game ever played. Hopefully, one day, I can get to play the game I love.”