An Arkansas running back has been steadily working toward a comeback and the Razorbacks got good news when doctors cleared him to play in the final week of spring practices.
Kody Walker has been a member of the Arkansas football team for two seasons, but has only been able to play in five games because of two unrelated leg injuries. In 2011, Walker suffered a stress fracture in his shin and last year, he broke his leg on punt coverage against Louisiana-Monroe.
Walker started the 34-31 loss to the Warhawks at fullback in place of Kiero Small, who checked out of the hospital with a season-ending injury the day Walker checked in.
“Me and Kody, yeah we were rehabbing buddies,” Small said. “It’s a little bit easier to come out and work hard when you’re practicing every day, but man, Kody was coming in at 6:30 in the morning with Matt Summers, training and training and we knew we weren’t going to play. So, you saw a lot of work ethic out of Kody and we kind of pushed each other.
“Just to see him out there playing in the spring game was big for us.”
Walker wore number 40 in his first two seasons on the team and scored six touchdowns in that jersey, but he said superstition caused him to make a change.
“When I got up here, getting hurt two years in a row, I was thinking 40 was bad luck, so I had to ditch that number for something new and get my swagger back,” Walker said.
The Jefferson City, Mo. native decided to switch to No. 24, which he says is a better fit. Fellow running back Jonathan Williams said he is supportive of the number change as well.
“We joke about that a lot man,” Williams said. “That 40 wasn’t a good look for him, but that 24, he’s looking real nice in that.”
Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said it has been good to finally see Walker play and he thinks the 6-foot-2, 244-pound running back will bring a key component to the Razorbacks’ offense in the fall.
“He’s excited. I think he’s moving past his mindset of worrying and just playing football, Chaney said. “It was good to see him get out there and mix it up a little. He’s a big, heavy young man and he brings a load when he carries the ball. I’m glad to have him back in the offense as we try to continue to establish the mindset of physicality.”
Walker rushed for 40 yards on seven carries in the annual Red-White game. He received a medical redshirt after undergoing surgery for the stress fracture in 2011 and has three seasons of eligibility remaining.