Local walk-ons Walker, Beck eager to help Southeast Missouri State football team

Thursday, August 11, 2011
Derek Walker

Brandon Beck hasn't played in an official football game since 2005.

It hasn't been quite that long for Derek Walker, but it's still been since 2007.

The two local walk-ons will try to shake off the rust and make their mark with the Southeast Missouri State football team this year.

"They're both working hard and doing a good job," said Southeast coach Tony Samuel, whose squad had its first practice of preseason camp Saturday and its first of four two-a-day sessions Wednesday. "We'll see how they fit in, but they've both got a chance to help us."

Neither Beck, a freshman fullback from Jackson High School, nor Walker, a sophomore safety from Central High School, know how much -- if any -- playing time they'll be able to carve out this year.

Brandon Beck

But both say they're glad to be in the program and looking to contribute any way possible.

Army to Southeast

Beck's road to college football has been an interesting one.

After graduating from Jackson in 2006 -- he earned all-conference and all-region honors at linebacker -- Beck intended to play on the NAIA level for Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.

"I had actually signed with Lindenwood, but I decided to go into the military," Beck said.

Beck spent four years in the Army, including a 14-month deployment to Iraq. But his dream of playing college football never left him.

"I told myself I would play college football," Beck said. "After I got out of the military, that was one of my goals."

Beck enrolled at Southeast in January and approached the coaching staff about joining the program. He participated in spring practice and has impressed Samuel.

"He's a grown guy. Mature physically and mentally," Samuel said. "We really like him. I think he'll help us out somewhere."

The 5-foot-10, 220-pound Beck, who celebrated his 24th birthday Tuesday, is Southeast's oldest player.

Age aside, Beck said he's enjoyed his time with the program so far, believes he has adjusted well to an unfamiliar position and hopes to play a role with the Redhawks.

"I like it a lot. It was a little different going to fullback after mainly playing linebacker in high school, but it's going pretty good," he said. "I'm going to at least try to get in on special teams this year."

Position change

Walker, a 2008 Central graduate, also is adjusting to a position change. His was a bit more sudden.

Walker, who had been attending Southeast since graduating from high school, joined the Redhawks last year and practiced with the team at linebacker while redshirting.

Walker remained at linebacker during spring drills this year and made an impression during the spring intrasquad game when he returned an interception 28 yards. But he recently was moved to safety.

"I'm trying to get the hang of everything," Walker said. "It's a lot less contact, but I like it."

The 5-10, 215-pound Walker was an all-conference linebacker at Central who also stood out at running back. He said he missed football after being at Southeast for a while and wanted to get back into the sport.

"I'm liking it a lot," he said.

Walker, like Beck, is looking to play any role he can this year. Special teams might be his best shot.

"Special teams, any way possible," he said. "I hope to do something out there."

A smiling Walker said he believes his performance in the spring game opened some eyes.

"I think they recognize me now," he said.

Samuel does.

"He's got a great attitude and he plays hard," Samuel said.

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