Walters working on transition, signs with Ottawa
Published on -2/28/2013, 11:04 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Thomas More Prep-Marian senior Anthony Walters made it a goal to play collegiate football, but he would have to tread unfamiliar waters to do it.
Walters accomplished the goal, signing his letter of intent Wednesday at the TMP cafeteria to play football at Ottawa University, but it was a rough road to get there.
Given his body size, 6-foot-1 and approximately 200 pounds, and skill set, Walters likely wouldn't be able to remain on the offensive or defensive lines -- places he played in high school.
So during the past year, Walters began transitioning to tight end. He had to learn how to run routes and master the position's other intricacies. It was a steep learning curve at first, but he got it down and won the starting job during training camp.
But then during the third game of the season, he suffered a shoulder injury and didn't return to action for a long while.
As Walters watched his friends compete on the gridiron without him, he began to lose hope, he said.
Walters thought he might not play again.
"There was a time when I was sitting there on the bench that I thought it was all over," Walters said. "I didn't think I'd even get back in during the season."
He did return late in the season, but at that point, other injuries occurred.
TMP was shorthanded, and the Monarchs needed Walters back on the offensive line.
"I didn't really think it was that big of deal, because I am more about the team," Walters said. "It's more about doing what's best for the team."
By the end of the season, TMP only had three full games of film to produce of Walters playing tight end, but that was enough for Ottawa University.
Ottawa had Walters visit the campus and even had him run some drills there. Walters said the coaches said they were impressed by what they saw in the drills and in the limited bits of film.
"Talking to Coach (Kent) Kessinger, he said he recruited me to play tight end, and from the film he saw, I had plenty of what I needed in there," Walters said.
TMP coach John Montgomery, who has been on TMP's coaching staff for three seasons and has been head coach for one season, said the injury no doubt was a challenge for Walters to overcome when getting colleges attention.
"I think it definitely made it a little bit tougher for him," Montgomery said.
Montgomery said Walters was the type of player that has worked toward playing at the next level for a long while, and while others players simply talk about it, Walters actually did it, put in the work and made it come to fruition.
"He made a goal, and today is proof he was able to achieve it," Montgomery said. "I couldn't be prouder for him."
Walters, who plans to major in business administration, said he also considered Baker University and Benedictine College.
With his background on the offensive line and newly learned route-running skills, Walters should be able to make the transition to the next level, Montgomery said.
"I have had the opportunity to coach him the last three years, and I've seen the transformation physically and as a young man," Montgomery said.
"It has just developed on all fronts. Seeing him the last few years, he has developed by leaps and bounds in terms of strength."