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Transfer Arden Walker aiming for breakout season with CU Buffs

Missouri defensive lineman Arden Walker takes up his position in a game against Abilene Christian on Sept. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Missouri defensive lineman Arden Walker takes up his position in a game against Abilene Christian on Sept. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

About a year and a half ago, Arden Walker returned to his Denver home after his first semester at the University of Missouri and spent some time looking through the basement.

He found an old CU hat that belonged to his father and decided to take it with him.

This week, he proudly wore that hat as he talked to BuffZone about his decision to transfer to Colorado and play football for the Buffaloes.

“This is a vintage hat,” he said. “It actually says, ‘CU LATER’ on the back. That’s funny. I love vintage.”

Walker and CU fans are hoping he can find the same type of success his father had as a Buff years ago.

Arthur Walker was a defensive tackle for CU from 1986-89, earning Associated Press third-team All-American honors in 1989. He was second team All-Big Eight in 1988 and first team in 1989.

“I’m very excited,” Walker said of following in his father’s footsteps. “I feel like it’s an honor as well. … I’m just very blessed to be in the situation. I’m so happy and excited to come home, as well, and play in front of my friends and family.”

One of the highest-rated players from Colorado in the 2021 class, Walker starred at Cherry Creek High School, where he played for CU legend Dave Logan. As a senior, Walker had 31 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and six sacks, earning Centennial League defensive MVP honors.

Walker then chose to play at Missouri. In two years, he played in 16 games, finishing with 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. He started the Tigers’ last two games of the 2022 season.

The 6-foot-2, 252-pound edge defender was ready for a change, however, and he’s eager to play for the revamped Buffaloes, who went 1-11 a year ago, but are now led by first-year head coach Deion Sanders.

“I know the history and how (CU) has been in these recent couple of years,” Walker said. “I think it’s kind of good that they’re moving to a new light, a little fresh start, a new slate.”

As of Thursday afternoon, CU had 75 scholarship players on board – leaving 10 open spots – and 62 of them will be new to the team, including Walker.

“We’re gonna have to mesh really quickly and figure things out, just focus on the field really,” he said. “At the end of the day, there’s gonna be fans, people are gonna say things and all eyes are gonna be on us, obviously, just because of what happened this offseason. I just feel like our main focus has to be on the field, which I think we’ll be OK.”

Walker is joining what is now a crowded room of edge players. It’s a room loaded with transfers and competition for playing time will be fierce. Although Walker didn’t play much in his two years at Missouri, he feels he’s gone through a natural progression and that he’s ready to bust loose.

“I’m at a point where, I won’t say I’m an upperclassman but I’m in the middle and I have a little experience under my belt,” he said. “But now it’s like I’m moving into that role and it’s, ‘OK, maybe I can establish myself this upcoming year.’ Not maybe. I will.

“I’m way better (than two years ago). I think people are still curious about my playing abilities and my skills and stuff. I feel like, of course, I’m gonna show it when it’s due time, but I think I spent these last few years just developing myself in ways I know I could. Now I’m moving into that role that I’ll be ready this upcoming fall.”

Walker is grateful for his time at Missouri. He made the All-SEC academic honor roll both years and also developed as a player, making him ready to compete with the Buffs.

“It’s a shift going on,” said Walker, who arrives in Boulder next week. “Obviously, the culture is changing at the University Colorado. I’ve seen it and many other people have been attracted to the situation. I think it’s just something special happening here.

“I’ve been going up there since I was pretty much a baby. I know it like the back of my hand, as well. Now I’m taking a chance on myself at home, which feels good.”