In 2019, the Ottawa Redblacks fell to 3-15 and showed clear struggle in the passing game, but with all considered it should be improved come June 12th when the Redblacks face off against the Toronto Argonauts for the season opener.
Since the end of the regular season last year, the Ottawa Redblacks front office led by Marcel Desjardins made sure to fix all of the problems from a year ago. The biggest moves he’s made thus far have been getting an offensive mastermind in Paul LaPolice at head coach, as well as getting Nick Arbuckle at quarterback.
With those two moves, the offense already looks great but the big question for most Redblacks fans is who is our starting receivers. This may be a big worry for most fans, but if you take a look at who we have on our Redblacks roster, there’s not too much to worry about. The 3 big receivers will be R.J Harris, Brad Sinopoli and Anthony Coombs, and behind that you can expect DeVonte Dedmon, and Jerminic Smith to take a bigger roles on the offense as well as some younger guys that we’ve been able to get a hold of this off-season.
Among the young guys the Ottawa Redblacks scouting team have been able to get this off-season is Joe Walker. Walker is a 6 foot 3, 205 pound quarterback turned receiver with a big underdog story, but he may not be an underdog getting a starting position with the Redblacks in the future.
Joe Walker went to the University of Delaware in 2014, started his career strictly as a student. After sitting out 2014, he was back to football the following year in 2015 where he had his freshman eligibility. Listed down as a freshman in 2015, Walker started the season as the backup quarterback behind Blake Rankin although when he got into play i week 2 against Jacksonville he was given the starting position for the remainder of the season. In his freshman season at QB, Walker had 10 starts along with the second half he played in week 2, finishing with over 600 yards on 70 completions; one going for a touchdown. The run first offense didn’t get Walker to throw the ball too often in his freshman year, but he used his athleticism to rush for 400 plus yards and 3 touchdowns.
Using his athleticism is just what he did in University, and that’s why he moved to receiver. After playing quarterback for Delaware for 2 seasons in 2015 and 2016, the coaches were using him as a threat at QB, running back and receiver as in 2017 he was able to complete 51 of 93 passing attempts for over 600 yards and 4 touchdowns which was when he was also running for 276 yards and receiving for 152 yards. The numbers he put up at all 3 spots on the field were awesome and gave the Delaware coaches a decision to make on where he’d play in 2018, but standing at 6 foot 3 they had to put him out wide at receiver.
In 2018, Walker grew into his new position very smoothly catching 34 passes for 670 yards and 4 touchdowns. Joe Walker may have been at receiver but it didn’t stop him from using his football I.Q to throw 2 for 2 along with 120 rushing yards as a dual threat wide receiver.
Unfortunately for Walker’s professional career, he wasn’t drafted to any NFL team; although he was brought in to Chicago for the Chicago Bears training camp last year where he was able to play in a few pre-season games catching 4 passes for 23 yards. He got action in the pre-season but his play wasn’t enough for the Bears to keep so he was cut shortly after the pre-season. This stint with the Bears was his only professional opportunity other than a few practices with the XFL’s D.C Defenders where he was cut on January 22nd. He may have been cut by NFL and XFL teams, but that didn’t give a reason for the Redblacks not to give him a chance going into the CFL season in June.
On February 18th, the Redblacks signed a list of 10 players, on the list was 24 year old receiver from Delaware Joe Walker. With a clear opening at the receiver position in Ottawa, Walker will have the chance to play on their 46- man roster come June 12th when they play the Toronto Argonauts at home for the CFL season opener. Before he can do that, he has to go through the Ottawa Redblacks training camp where he has to prove what he’s all about. With that being said, if you’re planning on coming to Ottawa during training camp, look out for Joe Walker at receiver.