Mike Walker is starting to notice a trend.
The Edmonton Eskimos newly named defensive line coach is back where he left off as a player – again.
Walker returns to the Eskimos where he played defensive tackle from 1990-91.
It’s a remarkably similar situation to the one he found himself in while coaching the defensive line of the Washington State Cougars, where he played in college.
“It’s like, ‘Gee, I can’t believe this is happening,’ but it’s awesome, though,” Walker said. “It feels good to be back in the CFL and especially Edmonton – that’s where I finished my career.
“They’ve always been a great organization. I always wanted to get out there, I just didn’t have enough left in the tank when I came there.”
A three-time CFL all-star, Walker first joined the Eskimos from the Hamilton Tiger-cats, where he played from 1982-89, winning the ‘86 Grey Cup 39-15 over the Eskimos.
“When I got here, man, we had some great players like Tracy Ham, Henry ‘Gizmo’ Williams, Willie Pless, Brett ‘The Toaster’ Williams – we had some great players and great guys. I wish I had enough left in the tank to play 10 more years, but I didn’t.
“It catches up with you sooner or later.”
Although he hasn’t worked with him yet, Walker remembers playing against his new head coach, Richie Hall.
“I met him on the field because we were both defense and we played against each other,” Walker said. “The reason I knew who he was is because he was such a competitor and, man, he was a great player.”
Walker has more familiarity with his new defensive line, which includes former Eastern Washington standouts Dario Romero and Greg Peach, and former WSU player Adam Braidwood.
“The guys we’ve got up front, Kai Ellis and hopefully Romero is healthy,” Walker said. “Greg Peach, I watched him down here when he was with Eastern because my son was his teammate.”
Walker has already worked with Eskimos defensive tackle Adam Braidwood, who sat out the last two seasons due to injury.
“We’ve got to get him back healthy, too,” said Walker. “I coached him at Washington State.
“Man, I’m excited about the D-line that I have right now coming in. Richie told me those are some good guys. I’m just going to try and make them better.”
Walker wrapped up 11 seasons coaching with the Cougars in 2007 before joining the Toronto Argonauts for Don Matthews’ last hurrah the following year.
“This past season, I just sat out, and believe it or not coached AAU basketball – my daughter’s basketball team,” said Walker, whose youngest daughter, Payton, is 10 years old. “To tell you the truth, after that year off, I’m refreshed. I can’t wait; I’m ready to explode.”
But last year remains one of his most enjoyable experiences as a coach.
“By far; what a relief,” Walker said. “I needed that, so now I’m ready to get back in the game.”
Walker’s son, Marcus, who played at Eastern, is attending graduate school at Arizona State; his other daughter, Taylor, is attending EWU, where she is a track athlete, in the javelin and shot put.