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August 11, 2012

Smaller size, but big shoes to fill




If someone was to take a picture of USC left tackle Aundrey Walker from fall camp last year and put it side-by-side with a fall camp picture from this year, the photo would look like it came straight out of a Jenny Craig advertisement.

Down 85 pounds from last season and looking like a whole new player, Walker did not credit Jenny Craig, P90X or any other weight loss program for his newly transformed body. He simply stated that it was something that he knew he needed to do and wanted to do.

"It [losing weight] was a personal thing," Walker said. "I had to. Coming to the collegiate level you cant play at 360, I was slow and sluggish, tired throughout the plays and now I'm explosive…very. It's great."

Walker said that losing the weight was not overly difficult for him and that the key was mostly just cutting out carbs and starches and sticking to meat and vegetables.

"It's all a mental game, you just gotta set your mind to it," he said. "I can't eat this, I can't eat that, I can't eat this late. I mean it's not that hard, you just gotta have motivation and the will power to do it."

As his highest weight, during his official visit to USC, Walker weighed around 378 pounds. He got down to 352 coming in as a freshman and then went back up to about 360, but now at about 300 pounds Walker may have even gotten a little carried away. He was actually told by the coaches that he needed put some pounds back on for playing purposes.

"I actually had to gain weight because Coach Kiffin told me I was too light," he said. "At my lightest I went down to 294…it wasn't working. So, I gotta put on at least 10 to 15 pounds and play around 310 to 315."

With his new mobility, Walker believes he can keep up with anybody on the field.

"I'm feeling great. I'm moving quicker I'm more explosive. I just feel more alive out there and energetic and I'm just ready, ready to play."

And play he will. Running with the first-teamers before an injury sidelined him for the past few practices, Walker was well on his way to being the starter.

"[On running with the ones] It feels good, it feels good but everything now is not set, there's no starters and I'm just out here working."

However, should Walker end up as the starter at left tackle, he will have big shoes to fill following behind All-American and No. 4 overall NFL Draft pick, Matt Kalil, but Walker credits Kalil for preparing him well for the job.

"I mean it's great, he was a great role model and he was a great guy, great pass protector, great run blocker, I mean just all around great off the field and on the field. He was a mentor to me and he taught me everything that I know right now."

For now though, Walker is just focused on getting better with his team in camp.

"On the grind, on the grind. That's all it is. Prep, preparation is the key."

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