In 2001, Tristan Walker averaged 8 yards per carry during his
senior year at Claremont High School in Claremont, Calif.
Rated as the No. 10 fullback recruit in the nation by
PacWestFootball.com, his 6-foot, 222-pound frame and halfback moves
attracted recruiters from all around the country, including
Colorado and CSU. Walker chose to come to Fort Collins and
impressed head coach Sonny Lubick and his staff right away.
In 2002, the true freshman saw his first action in CSU’s fourth
game of the season against Louisville. Some fans at Hughes Stadium
did not even realize CSU all-time leading rusher Cecil Sapp left
the game and Walker entered, their running style and build were so
similar. He ran four times for 24 yards.
Then: “I broke a tackle and then I ran into a guy and he just
drug me down,” Walker said. “And my ankle just gave out.”
Walker’s hyper-extended ankle would cost him a minimum of three
to four weeks. The CSU coaching staff convinced him to miss the
rest of the season, take a medical redshirt and come back strong
In 2003, the redshirt freshman found himself in a three-way
battle for the starting running-back job with senior Rahsaan
Sanders and CU transfer Marcus Houston. Walker looked solid in fall
practices, but Sanders got the start in the season opener against
Walker entered the game late in the first quarter and took a
late pitch from quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt on an option play.
Then: “After I got the pitch from Bradlee, I went down the
sideline and I was looking at (the CU defender),” Walker said. “I
was about to hit him and I planted my knee and he hit my knee.”
He tore his anterior coruscate ligament and missed the entire
In 2004, Walker is back at spring practice, the knee about 85
percent recovered. Rather than letting the injuries get him down,
he believes he has something to prove.
“When we get into the fall, I want to be the starting running
back,” he said. “It’s been a little disappointing, getting injured
in my first game two years in a row, but it just fills me with more
passion to go out there and play and try to be the best.”
Offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt said the pace of
Walker’s recovery has surprised him.
“I wasn’t sure he was even going to be back,” Hammerschmidt
said. “When I saw No. 28 out there, I was asking (running backs)
coach (Mick) Delaney, ‘Who’s that guy?’ I didn’t think he was even
However, Hammerschmidt said he has seen players with great
ability unable to come back from major injuries, especially to the
“It will be interesting to see once (Walker) starts going in
pads,” Hammerschmidt said. “Some guys have that internal drive and
they can fight through injuries; I hope he’s one of those
Walker will once again be in a competition for the starting job.
Houston, Jimmy Green, Uldis Jaunarajs and Adam Hayward, who has
changed positions from safety, are among the competition.
Hammerschmidt said that Green would be the starter if the Rams
played tomorrow, but Green said he knows there is no room for
“The competition makes each player better,” said Green, who
closed out last season starting for the Rams. “It’s better for all
Lubick said that he has been impressed with Walker’s
rehabilitation but said he thinks he has to lose about 10
“He’ll have to have a good summer,” Lubick said. “There aren’t
going to be any miracles.”
Walker’s roommate, offensive lineman Albert Bimper, said Walker
has a lot of support on the team and veteran players have helped
him realize that his reward will come if he pays his dues.
“He’s had it rough,” Bimper said. “(But) he’s had the leadership
in front of him that’s kept his head straight … and he’s very
mentally strong too.”
Wide receiver Dustin Osborn separated his right shoulder in
practice Friday. Osborn is expected to compete for the starting
wide receiver job opposite David Anderson. The extent of the injury
has not been determined … The Rams conducted a two-hour scrimmage
on Saturday. Lubick said he was impressed with Jaunarajs, Adam
Lancisero, who has moved from linebacker to strong safety, and
cornerback Brandon Cathy, among others … Lubick said the Rams
will practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon this
week and take the Easter weekend off.