Each week during the college football season we will feature a player who is an officer for an Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.
Name: Bobby Walker
College: University of Illinois
Height, weight, class, position: 6-4, 240-pound, senior, tight end
High School: Loyola Academy in Golf, Ill.
About Bobby: A former walk-on who earned a scholarship prior to his junior season, Bobby has already earned bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently working on his master’s degree in management. He has appeared in all 12 games each of the last two seasons on special teams, and in 2017 made his first collegiate catch against Nebraska. For his work as a selfless servant to help other, the Illinois Chapter President is an AFCA Good Works Team nominee and is on the Wuerffel Trophy preseason watch list. Bobby has been a chapter leader serving the Rare Disease Community for three years, attended the Uplifting Athletes Leadership Development Conference in 2018 and 2019 and stepped into the role of Chapter President for his senior year.
What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?
WALKER: My most memorable moment was being put on scholarship on Christmas of my junior year. I came in as a walk-on to school and I always had a dream to be a scholarship football player and to see that come true was something I’ll never forget.
What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes?
WALKER: Nicky Allegretti was probably the reason I got involved with Uplifting Athletes. I have always tried to get into service and the way Nick led the way, for me it was a great example.
What have you learned from your experience with Uplifting Athletes?
WALKER: I have learned a ton from Uplifting Athletes. I think first off, it would be about the Rare Disease Community as a whole and how much we as college athletes can affect a community that gets overlooked frequently. Being part of another community outside of football was also nice because it gives you another identity other than the game that most of us have been playing since we were kids. Eventually this game ends for everyone and finding outlets for my time in other areas has been very rewarding.
What advice would you share with someone in high school looking to play college football?
WALKER: If you don’t love football you shouldn’t play at the next level. The commitment levels required to play in college are immense. You give up a lot of your time being around this game and if you aren’t loving every second of it you are going to find yourself in a bad place. Lastly would be how to manage time. Not only between football and school, but balancing relationships between family, friends, and your girlfriend are not easy and are often stressful. All that being said with your head and heart in the right place, as well as a strong support system around you, this game can be more rewarding than anything else in the world.
Who is your favorite NFL player and why?
WALKER: Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys is my favorite NFL player. Obviously he plays tight end but he also is a guy who knew how to be a professional in all senses of the word. He’s a great teammate, hard worker, committed father, and dedicated husband all the while coming back to play after a year of being out of the game.
If you could have lunch with any one person (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?
WALKER: If I could have lunch with anyone it would probably be Richard (Dick) Winters. He was the commanding officer for Easy Company in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II made famous by the book and HBO mini series Band Of Brothers. I would want to ask him about his experiences before and after the war, going through his rise in the military, being a part of one of the most decorated units in one of the hardest times in human history, as well as how he struggled in his life after the war.
BOBBY ON THE HOT SEAT
What is your perfect pizza?
WALKER: Deep Dish sausage pizza with butter crust well done from Lou Malnatis. Can’t be beat.
All time favorite movie?
WALKER: Favorite movie is The Dark Knight. I always have been a huge Batman fan and the direction from Christopher Nolan as well as his casting were superb.
What is your go-to fast food restaurant?
Favorite sports team (any sport)?
WALKER: Chicago Cubs. Seeing them win the World Series after so many years was an amazing experience.
What is the most used app on your phone?
WALKER: Probably Instagram. Whenever I need to kill time I feel like I get lost on there.