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We picked Walls (6-7 290) up as a UDFA after the draft it seems like he has a ton of untapped

talent.  The good thing with Wilkerson out of OTA's is a guy like him can get extra reps

 

http://www.syracuse.com/orangefootball/index.ssf/2015/04/davon_walls_2015_nfl_draft_syracuse_scouts.html

 

 

His name surfaces in a dimly-lit bar packed with NFL scouts and general managers. One scout speaks in hushed tones about a 340-pound defensive lineman from Division II who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. The next day, a CFL scout raves about a player with an 84-inch wingspan who terrorizes offensive linemen.

 

The word is out on Davon Walls.

To this point, Walls is best known as one of two players Syracuse coach Scott Shafer kicked off the team in his first months on the job. On March 6, 2013, police charged Walls with felony burglary for entering an unlocked campus apartment and walking out with $950 in electronics while teammate Markus Pierce-Brewster waited in the car. The what is clear: Walls was caught on camera leaving the apartment with a 19-inch television, an Xbox and video games. He and Pierce-Brewster pleaded guilty, successfully completed probation and had the charges dropped to misdemeanor trespassing.

 
Davon Walls waits for the start of practice at Ft. Drum in 2012. Frank Ordonez | The Post-Standard

The why is still murky. Some say Walls got a raw deal, others call it a dumb mistake by an immature college kid. Everyone agrees a kid from inner city Brooklyn should have known better. The why didn't matter. The incident was the latest in a long line of legal issues for Syracuse players. Shafer, who declined comment for this story, made an example of them, dismissing Walls and Pierce-Brewster from the program a week after charges were filed.

 

Google "Davon Walls," and the burglary is the story that pops up. Everything that happened before and since that day — discovering football late, scrubbing toilets in the Mississippi Delta while earning an associate's degree, landing at five colleges in five years — is lost in the dark shadow cast from one ugly legal incident. That one incident has caused a unique talent that has NFL scouts simultaneously licking their chops and trying to keep him a secret to go almost unnoticed.

 

What if Walls had never entered the apartment? Maybe he would have lived up to his potential in his senior season at Syracuse. Maybe it would be Mel Kiper Jr., not CFL scouts, singing his praises. Maybe Walls would be more certain about hearing his name called on the weekend of the 2015 NFL Draft.

"I think about that all the time," Walls says. "If I could have played in high school and learned the game more. If I could have had more self-control at Syracuse at that time. Man, who knows where Davon Walls would have been right now?"

***

Davon Walls' story is one of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it started in high school.

The first time Walls stepped on a football field, he was a freshman at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn. He didn't last long, though. Playing tight end, Walls got hit too hard in a game and stopped playing. He didn't want to get hurt for basketball, his first passion.

Walls was one of the unsung heroes of Lincoln's basketball team in 2009. While current Charlotte Hornets player Lance Stephenson was scoring over 30 points per game, Walls was the one taking the hard fouls, giving the hard fouls and making sure Stephenson could take over games. While Walls did an admirable job and one that could have earned him college scholarships at mid-major Division I schools, he belonged on the football field.

In basketball, a 6-foot-5, 300-plus pound body would take him only so far. In football, that body, combined with a basketball player's foot speed and 12 percent body fat, is a sack master's starter kit. Lucky for Walls, a family friend suggested he get back into football and knew some coaches at a junior college. The problem is, that junior college was Fresno City Community College, just over 2,900 miles west of Brooklyn.

Walls lasted only a year in California playing both basketball and football. He couldn't afford to live on campus and wanted to ease the financial burden on his family, so he went to the Mississippi Delta to play at Hinds Community College. That lasted just a few practices. Hinds, by rule, had too many out-of-state players and an overload of defensive linemen. That's when Freeman Horton, then head coach and now athletic director at Coahoma Community College, went to get a look at who might be available. Walls was hard to miss. 

"Physically looking at the kid, he's like a big Greek god. He's huge," Horton said. "He's got some of the biggest hands you've ever seen. They swallow you, man. His hands will swallow you up."

By Walls' second practice at Coahoma, defensive line coach Ken Strong realized he had something special. Walls was showing bad technique and still dominating. Right away, Strong tipped off South Alabama coaches about a prospect they might want to check out. By the time Walls had played nine games, the word was out. As major programs like Ole Miss and Mississippi State began to take notice of Walls, the story again became one of wrong place, wrong time.

When Walls enrolled at Coahoma, some of his classes didn't transfer. He didn't have enough credits to graduate with his associate's degree in time for spring football in 2011, so teams passed him over.

Without any remaining junior college eligibility, Walls stayed at Coahoma to get his degree. In the meantime, he worked for Strong, also Coahoma's head baseball coach, as a manager.

That's when Sean Norris entered the picture. Norris, also a Brooklyn native, was interviewing for a job on Coahoma's football staff when he first saw Walls running through a basketball workout. Norris did a double take.

"Wait a minute, who'd you sign with?" Norris asked.

"I didn't sign with anybody," Walls said.

"Where did you go to high school?" Norris replied, still in disbelief a kid that size that moved like Walls did could be at Coahoma.

"I went to Lincoln," Walls said.

"Lincoln in Brooklyn?"

"Yeah."

Norris was beside himself.

"How could you go to Lincoln and not be at Syracuse?" Norris wondered. "That's like the state university of football, the powerhouse. Every kid in New York wants to go to Syracuse."

Walls told Norris he went the junior college route, that maybe if he had been in a different place at a different time, things could have been different.

Norris knew exactly who to call. He had an old childhood friend who could get Walls back on track and help his football team in the process. That friend was Doug Marrone, then head coach at Syracuse.

"Yo, I've got a prospect for you," Norris told Marrone.

"Tell me about him," Marrone said.

 

***

When Walls was growing up in Brooklyn, he knew he had to make it out, had to make his family proud. He remembers his mother, a single parent, buying him a Syracuse basketball jersey.

"If you really want it," she told him, "you can make it to a school like this."

Years later, everything fell into place. Big schools had passed him up, but Syracuse coaches needed only three days from the time they saw his film to get Walls' name on a letter of intent. The coaches wondered how they missed him the first time around.

 

Walls called Norris as soon as he got to Syracuse. He told his coach every detail of his new life as a Division I athlete. The training table, the equipment and the food. Oh, the food.

"There's a big difference between big-time football and small-time football," Walls told Norris.

"Hey," Norris said. "You remember that."

"If anything, I'll remember the taste of the steak," Walls said.

 

Coahoma was one of the poorest junior colleges in the country when Walls attended. Players might get a dinner of frozen chicken, lumpy mashed potatoes and salad that was more brown than green. For breakfast, cereal, old grits and watered down eggs. Syracuse was paradise.

But Walls' taste of big-time college football was brief. He played three games as part of Syracuse's defensive line rotation in 2012 and didn't make a tackle. He blames himself, mostly. He was out of shape, pushing 350 pounds. With Jay Bromley and other experienced linemen on the depth chart, Walls had his work cut out for him.

That offseason was supposed to be when he would make the jump. Walls, entering his senior season, says he had worked his way back into playing shape. He can't say for sure, but Walls thinks he was going to work his way into the lineup. Instead, he found himself calling Norris again, this time with bad news.

"Coach, I just want to let you know, I apologize," Walls told Norris. "Here's what the situation is. I didn't anticipate it, I shouldn't have been there. It was just a group of people. I could be considered in the wrong place at the wrong time. But you needed to know first. Listen, coach. I should have known better. Coming from Brooklyn, I should have known better. I should have just known better.'"

"I was shocked," Norris said. "Everyone was shocked. Everyone."

How could this happen? As the baseball manager at Coahoma, Walls was scrubbing toilets, mowing the grass and building up the pitcher's mound. He never complained, and more importantly, he was constantly around the athletic department's equipment and money unsupervised. Nothing was ever stolen.
 
Walls owned up to his mistake and was left with a choice. With only one year of college football eligibility left, he couldn't transfer to another Division I school. He turned to Norris for advice. Some people told Norris to tell Walls to quit. He could go home to Brooklyn, take the civil service test and get a job.

"The thought in my head wasn't that this is the end," Walls said. "It was that this is a hill. I had a barrel full of water on my back and I had to make it up that steep hill."

Walls needed another shot. His career had taken him from Brooklyn to Fresno City to the Mississippi Delta and to upstate New York. His next stop? Division II Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., where Norris had another connection. With the taste of Division I football fresh in his mouth, Walls had to swallow his pride. One step forward, two steps back.

 

There's no ill will toward Syracuse. Walls had a strong relationship with his coaches there and knows he made a mistake. Lincoln hasn't had a player selected in the NFL Draft since 1974, but Walls still beams with Blue Tiger pride. Syracuse is behind him.

"S---, it's a learning experience, man," Walls said. "You go from playing for one of the biggest teams in college football and basketball and basically every sport, just school period, and then having a devastating blow like that. You from the ACC to the GLVC, it was just crazy. I don't really think about it no more, because everything is dealt with. But when you really think about it, it's like, 'S---.'"

"Learn from it," he told himself.

Lincoln head coach Mike Jones gave Walls a clean slate but reserved his excitement. He had heard about players who said they were bigger than they were and underwhelmed when they showed up on campus. Walls wasn't one of those players.

"He showed up and I said, 'OK, he's a big dude. Maybe not 6-7, but he's big,'" Jones said.

Jones, a former St. Louis Rams linebacker who famously tackled Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson a yard short of the goal line in Super Bowl XXXIV, will never forget Walls' first game at Lincoln. Everyone had seen what Walls could do on the practice field, but he had to prove he could do it in game action.

 

Jones kept prodding him, "Are you going to make plays?" Walls answered by playing 75 of Lincoln's 96 snaps on defense, making 10 tackles, four for loss and sacking the quarterback three times. When he returned to the sideline, Walls smirked at Jones.

"Did I make enough plays for you now, coach?"

Walls didn't stop there. He finished the season with 43 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. He never missed a meeting, was never late to class and generally kept to himself. He didn't want to run into any more trouble.

"Sometimes you get a D1 guy who comes down to D2 and you get a guy with a little arrogance about him, because he was a D1 player and now he's playing D2," Jones said. "But it can humble you and make you a better person. That's definitely what it did with Davon. It made him a better person."

***

By the time January rolled around, Jose Jefferson had heard a lot about Walls. Jefferson is the director of the College Gridiron Showcase, a postseason all-star game that had its inaugural event this year. Jefferson wanted a game for players who flew under the radar at smaller schools. With 25 years of coaching experience, including coaching Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson when he played in Sioux City, Jefferson has become known as the "small-school guy."

When Walls showed up to Arlington, Texas, for the week of practices and the game, he made it a point to find Jefferson and pull him aside. He wanted to personally thank him for giving him the opportunity and explain what happened at Syracuse. He needed Jefferson to know he was a good person. So Walls started telling his story, but Jefferson stopped him.

 

"Every sinner has a future, and every saint has a past," Jefferson said. "He showed me a different side of him. If that was back then, then it stayed back there. We all fall short of the glory of being perfect. It's tough. We're a unique society. We're quick to judge, but yet again, we're quick to forgive. It's a fine line really. I still to this day don't know what went on, nor do I care. The Davon Walls I know is a pretty solid guy."

Walls felt a weight off and was, by all accounts, a model citizen throughout the week. He felt comfortable being himself. Walls says he has a tendency to talk to everyone he meets as if they're one of the guys. He cracks jokes that can be mistaken for arrogance and has a relaxed attitude than can be mistaken for indifference. At his pro day, when a scout asked him what time he was going to run in a certain drill, Walls jokingly asked how fast the scout wanted him to run it.

So at the College Gridiron Showcase, Walls tried to toe the line. On the practice field, he dominated. With 75 scouts on hand, coaches had trouble finding someone who could match up with him.

Norris couldn't believe the type of interest Walls was generating among NFL teams at the game. Hell, until his March 27 pro day at Missouri Western, nobody knew Walls' exact height or weight. He's been worked out on both the offensive and defensive lines and at outside linebacker.

 

Assistant personnel directors knew Walls' story and were asking Norris what type of attention the kid was getting. They wanted to make sure Norris wasn't calling people around the league, that the secret wasn't out. Even when Jefferson asked scouts who they were there to watch, nobody would answer him. That alone makes it tough to predict where Walls could fall on draft day.

But he's not a secret anymore.

"He's not going to go through free agency," Jefferson said. "He just isn't. Someone is going to have to spend a seventh-round pick to lock him up."

***

How does the story of Davon Walls end?

The NFL Draft is tough to figure out. In a year when off-the-field issues have been common in the NFL, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who has been accused of rape, is the presumed No. 1 pick. Talent can trump character.

One mistake, one misdemeanor on his record, threatened to derail his football career. There's never been an issue with drugs or fighting, but there was also never a second chance at Division I football.

 

Now, with the NFL Draft a few weeks away, Walls is again watching his football career hang in a delicate balance.

Someone will take a chance on Walls, who turns 25 in October. That much seems certain. Whether it's with a draft pick or a camp invite, he'll get his opportunity. This time, he doesn't want there to be a "What if?"

He's tasted the steak in Syracuse, scrubbed the toilets in the Mississippi delta and traveled over 7,000 miles to reach his football goals. Some have said the fact that Walls has made it this far is a success story. Not Walls. He doesn't just want to make the NFL, he wants to be in the Hall of Fame.

For now, the man who has been to five colleges since 2009, the one who's been across the country and back again finds himself in a familiar spot as draft day approaches.

"I'm sitting in a boat right now in the water, and I just need a destination," Walls said. "Once I get there, I'll unload the boat."

He's hoping, this time, he'll find himself in the right place at the right time.

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Linked this article in an UDFA update because he's an interesting prospect who reportedly generated interest from other teams.  Definitely worth a look.

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Getting hit by a bus while your standing on the corner is "being in the wrong place at the wrong time".   Breaking into someone's apartment, and stealing $1,000 of their personal stuff, isn't.

 

With that said, everyone deserves a second chance, and I hope this guy can make the team.  At least the practice squad

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Could you imagine if this guy emerged like a James Harrison who I believe was an UDFA?

Karma has to turn eventually for us right?

Might have started this draft when Williams dropped to us. Then Mac made his own luck moving up one to make sure no one else moved to get Petty before us.

That move was like a preemptive strike to our fate when we missed Favre by one pick to Atlanta while we had his card in our hand.

Hoping the worm has turned.

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Getting hit by a bus while your standing on the corner is "being in the wrong place at the wrong time".   Breaking into someone's apartment, and stealing $1,000 of their personal stuff, isn't.

 

With that said, everyone deserves a second chance, and I hope this guy can make the team.  At least the practice squad

Here Here. 

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You'd think he just got inducted to the Hall Of Fame. I guess you can't have 53 Mauldin's on a team.

Can't help but wonder why he would do an interview bare chested, and wearing sun glasses?  Perhaps a future porn star?  Guess we'll have to wait for him to start texting pictures of his ding-a-ling to see if he's got the right stuff

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Can't help but wonder why he would do an interview bare chested, and wearing sun glasses?  Perhaps a future porn star?  Guess we'll have to wait for him to start texting pictures of his ding-a-ling to see if he's got the right stuff

 

At least he had the decency to wear pants. I hope.

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I think he is one of the really interesting UDFA's.  Jets paid him a $15k bonus (I read somewhere) and that means a lot of teams were interested.  Think the Jets scouts get an "A" for signing him, especially given how competitive our D line is.

 

Have high hopes for this guy.  But don't think he will last on the PS.

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I think he is one of the really interesting UDFA's.  Jets paid him a $15k bonus (I read somewhere) and that means a lot of teams were interested.  Think the Jets scouts get an "A" for signing him, especially given how competitive our D line is.

 

Have high hopes for this guy.  But don't think he will last on the PS.

 

I don't see how they will have room for all these bodies.  Harrison is there.  They let Ellis walked and seemed to like TJ Barnes last season for what it is worth.  I get how everybody likes the whole diamond in the rough thing on Walls, but this team drafted another NT in the 7th.  Deon Simon was obviously higher on their board than Walls.  Maybe they didn't want to invest a draft pick because of the character concerns ( nobody remembers a signing bonus, but they remember if your 7th round pick turns criminal). 

 

Simon is also an interesting guy.  Small school, he spent a couple of years out of football after a knee injury knocked him out of Central Florida.  Had something like 13 sacks over his last couple of years and he didn't start much because of a ton of injury concerns.  It's going to be a fun battle.  They may notcarry too many of these guys since WIlliams, WIlkerson, Richardson and Coples all have experience inside.  It may only be a 2 down position. 

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