This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It's been a long wait for Michael Walker.
Utah's newest starting safety has worked his way steadily up the depth chart in three years. He's played plenty in a back-up role, sort of like a utility man. But he's never quite been the number one guy.
Now heading into next week's opener against Utah State Walker will have a big impact on the Utes' defense for the first time in his career. Heading into fall camp, he was a co-starter at nickel back on the depth chart. He ascended from that status with his play in the last few weeks.
"I've been working hard," Walker said. "It's my senior year and I'm trying to enjoy my senior year. You never know when it's your last time to play."
Walker's been one of the more versatile defensive backs on the team, one who's rotated between cornerback and safety the last few years. He knew where he was slated on the depth chart coming into camp. But he also knew that he just wanted to play.
His knowledge of the defense and the different schemes has been a key. The fact that he knows multiple positions has made him more valuable and he eventually emerged as a front-runner for the final safety spot.
"Football is a competition, so I just wanted to come into camp and give it my all," Walker said. "I want to be able to contribute to this team in any way I can."
The First Ending
Saturday's practice will officially conclude fall camp for the Utes. They have started to prepare for Utah State this week. That preparation will continue into next week as the season-opener draws closer.
"I think we're all relieved to be out of camp and getting into game week," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "It's been a long off-season."
A Key Matchup
Catching contested passes against the Aggies secondary will be pivotal if Utah wants to emerge victorious, wide receiver Dres Anderson said.
The matchup will be areas of strength for each team. If Anderson and Kenneth Scott can win the battle there, the Utes could have an advantage over USU come the fourth quarter.