Like the others, this Ottawa Redblacks off-season has been full of transactions. A lot of new faces on the coaching staff, a couple of extended contracts, but most importantly a great group of free agent signings. Of course the team highlights the big names like Nick Arbuckle and/or Cleyon Laing although, as you look deep on the list you can find some hidden gems.
On the list of hidden gems on the Ottawa Redblacks roster is wide receiver, Joe Walker. With only 4 true receivers on the Ottawa Redblacks roster with CFL experience, there’s a couple spots to fill on the Redblacks roster, and given the film and profile put together on Walker he could very well be a big part to the team.
Obviously Walker will have to prove himself to the coaches at camp and really get a feel for the Redblacks offense but his past tells you a lot of great things. Joe Walker, born and raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania is a dual threat on the offensive side of the ball. Playing both quarterback and receiver with the University of Delaware, the now 24 year old has a shot at the professional level in Canada.
Though it is his first time in Canada, it’s not his first pro opportunity, “My time at Delaware, I was a very respected person around campus and was a proven athlete which helped me go to the next level also.” Walker says, “I went to the Buffalo Bills for a short mini camp tryout where I really was put into some defensive back drills and then I went to Chicago for a pre-season. They wanted to see more of what I could do at receiver.” When talking about his NFL opportunities he mentions, “At my pro day at Delaware, I was put into all kinds of drills so the NFL scouts can get a look at me. Getting talking with the scouts at the pro day, I had a feeling they were interested and then to get those chances to play were really cool.” He also said, “It really hit me that I was at the NFL the first day I was in Chicago. We had like a “mock game” where all the fans showed up, packed the stands and it was mostly when we ran out as a team onto the field. The fans were all cheering and it was so surreal to have that opportunity to be in the NFL.”
Of course his NFL time sticks out the most, catching 5 passes for 30+ yards in the Chicago Bears 2019 pre-season, but the variety of things he can do on the field is huge. In his college days, he spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at quarterback, playing a mobile/dual threat quarterback role, passing for 2,256 yards and 8 touchdowns while rushing for 1,207 yards and 6 touchdowns and to finish off his career at Delaware Walker was put into the passing game more. Using his 6’3 height he was able to catch over 40 passes for 837 yards and 4 touchdowns. Looking at the numbers he put up, there’s no question to why he was so respected around the Delaware campus but as he moves on to the professional stage he looks to make use of his college talents.
When asked about what he can do with the Redblacks he goes to say, “When you take off your helmet, at the end of the day football is a business and that’s what I’ve really learnt through my time in the different teams, but with that said I really hope to prove myself in Ottawa. I’m very grateful for them giving me the opportunity and if they like what I show them on the field I hope to bring some big plays, contributing anyway that I really can and hope to bring a championship to the city of Ottawa.”
Making big plays is something Walker can do, he comments, “When I’m there in camp, I’m super excited to get on the field and compete with the guys. They can expect a high intensity player, I’m not exactly sure what I will be doing with them, but I have a good feeling they’d like to see me at more than just the receiver position.”
Playing more than receiver is what he has done in the past, “When I get to Ottawa, I’m sure they’d like to see what I can do in some trick plays/wildcat plays. I’ve done kick-returns in the past but all being said I just hope to do whatever I can to help the team win.”
To leave his mark Joe Walker goes to say, “I love the game of football, I’m always thinking about it. I’m the kind of guy that when walking in the house I make a football move to turn and I just am always thinking about it. I’m a hard worker, I’m always working on my craft so when I’m in Ottawa they can see the best version of me. I’m a competitor ready to set high goals for myself.”