Jan. 11, 2007

University of Notre Dame junior running back Darius Walker has decided to forgo his senior year and will make himself available for the 2007 National Football League Draft.

“After much thought and discussion with my family, I have decided to pass up my final season at Notre Dame and enter the NFL Draft,” Walker said. “These decisions are never easy to make and it will be tough to leave my friends and teammates but I feel this is the right thing to do at this time in my life. I’d like to thank all my friends, teammates, professors and coaches that have passed through my life the last few years. You have all played instrumental roles in helping my parents and I feel welcome in South Bend and for that I’m truly grateful. While it is true that I’m leaving Notre Dame, I’ll always consider myself a member of the Fighting Irish family and look forward to finishing my coursework in the near future so I can proudly call myself a Notre Dame graduate.”

Walker led the Irish in rushing in 2006 for the third straight season as he rushed for a career-high 1,267 yards, the sixth-best single-season total in school history, and seven touchdowns. He became the first Notre Dame running back since Emil Sitko (1946-49) to lead the team in rushing in each of his first three seasons. Walker eclipsed 100 yards rushing in six games this past season and averaged 115.6 yards per game over the last nine contests. He also proved to be a very reliable receiving option out of the backfield as he broke his own school record for most receptions by a Notre Dame running back in a single season with 56 catches.

“On Tuesday, Darius Walker and his parents informed me of his intent to make himself eligible for the NFL Draft,” said Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis. “He guaranteed me that he would graduate from Notre Dame in the near future. Although disappointed, we wish him nothing but the best.”

A native of Lawrenceville, Ga., Walker leaves Notre Dame as the fourth-leading rusher in school history with 3,249 yards. His 693 all-time carries ranks third on the school’s career list and his 90.3 yards per game career average also ranks third in Notre Dame lore. This past season, Walker became just the fourth Fighting Irish player to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in consecutive seasons joining Vagas Ferguson, Allen Pinkett and Autry Denson. He is the school’s record holder in career receptions by a running back with 109, surpassed 100 yards rushing in 15 games and tallied 26 total touchdowns (23 rushing, three receiving). Walker started 27 of the 36 games he appeared in at Notre Dame.