By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Meet the Rookies: Walker happy to be at home with Falcons
Former Georgia Tech star Vance Walker is ready to contribute this year for the Atlanta Falcons. - photo by The Associated Press

Vance Walker wasn’t the first defensive tackle the Atlanta Falcons chose in the 2009 NFL draft, but he might be the most well-known in Georgia. After a stellar four-year career at Georgia Tech, Walker is making the short move to Flowery Branch and says he couldn’t be happier about it. Walker spoke with The Times sports editor Brent Holloway recently about his hometown celebrity status, what he’s doing to get better during his down time and his addiction to video games.

Question: You just wrapped up a decorated career at Georgia Tech. Are you happy to get to stay in town and play with the Falcons?

Answer: Extremely happy. I would’ve never guessed that I’d get drafted by the Falcons. I mean it’s just a dream really, to get to stay in the town where I put so much work in, and where everybody knows me and whatnot.

Q: Coming out of high school in South Carolina, were you a Panthers fan growing up?

A: I wasn’t a big NFL person, really. I favored the Panthers just because I was in the Carolinas, but it wasn’t anything serious. I mean as soon as I got to college, I was all about college football. I never really kept up with favorites as far as the NFL goes.

Q: Tell me a little bit more about your hometown (Fort Mills, SC). I read somewhere that you were the first NFL player to come from there in a long time.

A: Yeah, Fort Mills is a small town. Truthfully, you can drive through it without knowing you passed it. I think I was the first guy from my high school to sign a scholarship to a D-I college since 1956, or something like that. So I mean, we weren’t the biggest football school while I was there. When I was in 10th grade, I think the varsity’s record was like 0-11. So it’s never really been a football school, but outside of that, it’s a great town — a lot of good people there. It’s pretty much equivalent to Flowery Branch; small town, nice lakes, basically the same as it is here.

Q: Are they pretty proud of the hometown boy making good?

A: They are. I mean, I never stop hearing about it. I might have some little kids coming up to me and being like ‘hey, are you Vance Walker,’ and I’m like ‘yeah, that’s me.’” So it’s a trip, man, it really is. But it’s a blessing, and I’m just trying to set a good example for everybody that’s coming after me.

Q: So what do you like to do when you’re not on the football field? How do you keep yourself busy?

A: Umm, I like hanging out with my friends, but I don’t even do that too much. Truthfully, I like playing video games, that’s just how I am (laughing).

Q: What do you play?

A: Man, I get into some Halo 3 on Xbox Live. I’m the best person I that I know. Nobody’s beaten me, so if anybody wants to challenge me, look me up. And I’ll play Call of Duty 4 all day. I could just sit around playing that for hours and not get mad — my girlfriend might get mad at me, but I’m pretty happy.

Q: Now that OTAs (Organized Training Activities) have wrapped up, what are you taking away from your first experience as an NFL player?

A: Basically, it’s a lot of things they put on you as far as your responsibilities. There’s a lot that they give and expect you to pick up on, because they don’t have time to go over everything with everybody like they do in college. So, I mean, everything’s just a little bit faster, but I’ve gotten used to that. I’d say I was pretty successful in the first camp and everything. I think the biggest thing is learning the playbook and playing fast, and I think I’ve done a good job of grasping those concepts and all the plays and whatnot.

Q: So what are you doing until training camp starts in August?

A: Just training harder. My goal is to be quicker than what I am now. I had a hamstring injury at the (NFL) Combine that limited me from running as much as I would like to. So really, when I came in here, I had my conditioning, but I didn’t have my top-end speed that I used to have. And I’m going to work to get that back.

Friends to Follow social media