Aug. 18, 1999
TURLOCK - At 6-8, 330 pounds, Langston Walker is easy to spot on the football field. But the sophomore offensive tackle would prefer that he blends in with his teammates along the line.
For the first time in several years, Cal came to football camp with its starting unit pretty much already determined: Walker and Reed Diehl at the tackles, Brandon Ludwig and Kevin Doherty at the guards and John Romero at center. Those five were listed at the top of the depth chart in the spring, and they have stayed together most of the first six days in Turlock. Instead of shuffling players in and out of the lineup, this group is having a chance to become a cohesive group.
"As an offensive line, you have to work together, and you have to know each other's strengths and weaknesses," Walker said. "It's a lot easier to go out there and do your job when you know what the guy next to you is going to do or how he is going to react."
Although just a sophomore, Walker is one of the more experienced players for the Bears along the offensive line. As a redshirt-freshman last season, Walker moved into the starting lineup against Nebraska the second game of the year. He remained there the rest of the way, showing steady improvement as the season progressed.
That trend has continued over the past eight months, a fact that has impressed new offensive line coach Ed White.
"Langston is a big, strong, physical player who is young," White said. "Every day, every practice, Langston gets better. Langston's going to go as far as he wants to go. He's fighting a little bit with a weight issue. If he can get his weight down to where he can realize how quick he is, it's going to be very good for him.
"Even with just one year, he's one of the veterans," White added. "He's been a delight. He works hard on the football field, and I think he's going to be a great player. He's got a determination. He's just got to keep working harder and harder and harder."
Soft-spoken off the field, Walker has shown an aggressive determination to improve. During his short tenure in Berkeley, he has made tremendous strides in the weight room and in his technique. Still, he realizes there is a long road ahead for him to fully reach his potential.
"Getting game experience has helped me get more confident," Walker said. "I think I've done pretty well, but I still have a long way to go. I try to work on it every day. This is going to be my second year of playing. I've still got three years to progress to the best level."
And that means that Cal fans can expect to see him anchor the offensive line for years to come.