Busy summer for all-Canadian running back
Judging from statistics, Matt Walter should become the greatest running back in the history of the University of Calgary Dinos football program – but an injury has put that in jeopardy.
The fifth-year senior started the season 312 rushing yards away from the all-time record of 3,784 set by Elio Geremia.
Not only that, he is also three rushing touchdowns away from 30, the record currently held by J.P. Izquierdo.
Unfortunately, a nagging back injury has slowed Walter down, limiting him to 16 carries and 138 yards in just three games, putting him off the pace to set the record.
“I’m definitely looking to break it, exceed it and it’s just a matter of getting on the field,” he said. “It would definitely be a nice reward for the hard work we’ve put into this program, but also at the same time, it’s a good team accomplishment because it reflects coaching, recruiting, offensive line.”
It seemed like it was only a matter of time before he finally became the new record holder of both.
Walter admits he’s feeling the pressure to get it done, but he doesn’t want to come back too soon, and risk further injury, just for the record.
“It’s definitely mounting. At the beginning of the season, it was almost like a given because it was a marginal amount of yards but now it seems as games go by, it’s getting tighter and tighter,” the petroleum land management student said. “Obviously, the ultimate goal is the Vanier Cup and I can help this team best when I’m healthy more than banged up.”
It isn’t like Walter was having a bad summer however.
Back in May, he was selected 34th overall in the CFL Entry Draft by his hometown Calgary Stampeders, before becoming a late cut. The Stamps retain his rights though since he is still a college player.
“I definitely learned there was areas of my game that needs improvement,” he said. “Special teams is certainly one area and that was one focus for this season coming in is to improve on that.”
However, Walter didn’t get to take much time off this summer, after being selected by Team Canada for the World Championship of American Football.
He spent part of July in Austria, helping lead Canada to a silver medal finish in the event, losing to the United States 50-7 in the final game.
Walter did his part though, ultimately being named to the tournament all-star team.
“I learned just about how other players prepare for the games,” he said. “It’s interesting to see how they were able to come together given two weeks to prepare.
“Unity is very important and I was able to find that out right away with that team.”
With running backs Steven Lumbala and Anthony Woodson, and quarterback Eric Dzwilewski all filling the hole, helping the Dinos to a perfect record so far, Walter doesn’t need to be rushed back right away.
“We are just trying to execute the best we can,” said Lumbala. “Our offensive line has been playing really well and it’s allowed us to pass the ball through the air.”
Lumbala, a third year player, has been the feature back, accumulating 531 yards over the first four games.
Head coach Blake Nill has a problem most coaches would likely envy — trying to find enough carries to make sure everyone is happy.
“We will certainly utilize him when he’s ready to come back,” he said. “It just gives us another weapon.”
Both Nill and Walter said they believe it’s just a matter of time before the records finally fall.
“Maybe one game if it’s a good one, let’s just see what happens,” said Walter.