By Perry A. Farrell
Bobby Simes Jr. had to tell Deone Walker Jr., it was okay to hit his little league football opponents.
“He was always the biggest kid on the team,’’ said Simes, Walker’s Detroit Giants youth league coach. “He was a gentle giant. He didn’t want to hurt anybody. He wasn’t aggressive at first. We had to teach him that it was alright to go out and hit people on the other team.
“We told him he was protecting his teammates. If he didn’t protect them, we told him nobody else would. In a small sense, it was like (the movie) The Blindside.’’
Now Walker, 16, stands 6-feet-7 inches and weighs 315 pounds as a junior Cass Tech offensive tackle/defensive tackle.
In college, he wants to play defense because: “I like hitting people.’’
It shouldn’t be a problem. His recruitment should be blowing up soon. He has learned his lesson as far as being physical.
Michigan State, Toledo, Nebraska, and West Virginia have shown interest. Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Central Michigan have also shown interest, but not as much as MSU.
The list will only get longer.
“He’s just a great kid,’’ said Simes. “He still comes to all of our practices. He comes to the games. He helps out the younger kids. He’s very coachable. He wants to learn and get better.’’
That’s where Sound Mind Sound Body came in.
Walker started attending the program when he was 11.
“I’ve improved my bull rush and become more of a physical player,’’ said Walker. “I have good hands. I’ve learned to use my hands to get people off me and rush the passer.
“Offensively, I’ve done a better job of getting in my stance in pass protecting; sitting down to give myself good balance.’’
Center Raheem Anderson is his role model. Anderson has started since the ninth grade.
“He’s our leader on the offensive line,’’ said Walker. “I look up to him and he has always helped me.’’
The two led Cass Tech to the Detroit Public School League championship Saturday against rival Detroit King at Detroit Northwestern.
“I think we have enough talent to challenge for the state,’’ said Walker.
“We have a lot of young skill players who will be back next year. I think we have a chance if we stay healthy.’’