Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Walton Reflects On Record Defensive Performance Against Maryland

Sept. 5, 2002

by Adam Porcelli

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Last Saturday, the Notre Dame football team took a first step in pursuit of a successful season. The Irish began the 2002 campaign with an impressive win over No. 21/20 Maryland in Kickoff Classic XX, 22-0. One of the players instrumental in the victory was senior cornerback Shane Walton. Walton played outstanding for the Irish defense as he recorded three interceptions.

Walton’s impressive performance last weekend is one that amazed even the San Diego himself.

“I never dreamed of having three interceptions in one game. I had to look at the film just to see what happened out there,” he said.

“I think I was able to be in the right place at the right time thanks to the defenses called by our defensive coordinator (Kent Baer). I just happened to be the guy who was getting thrown at. I’ll probably never do that again.”

By intercepting three passes, Walton tied the Notre Dame record for interceptions in one game and became the first player to achieve the mark since Dave Duerson did the same in 1982 against Navy. This record-tying performance would not have been possible, though, if Walton did not make the choice he did following his freshman year. Walton opted to give up playing on Notre Dame’s men’s soccer team, where he led the team in scoring as a rookie, in order to try his hand at playing football for the Irish. He has come a long way over these past four years.

“I never thought I would be this far,” said Walton.

“I knew I wanted to play and felt I had the ability to play. I thought I would be good, but I did not expect I would be able to play at this high of a level.”

Walton may even be able to move on to the next level, the National Football League, after his days as a member of the Irish are finished. However, he is not thinking that far in to the future just yet.

“It has always been a dream, but I haven’t thought too much about it actually happening,” said Walton.

“If it happens it happens, but you can’t really get wrapped up thinking about it. I just go out onto the field and try to have fun. I don’t even think or talk about it now. I am just focusing on the task at hand.”

The task at hand is Notre Dame’s upcoming game on Saturday in its home opener against Purdue at noon (EST). Walton has had success in the past against the Boilermakers, including the last time Purdue visited Notre Dame Stadium in 2000. In that game, he had a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown off Purdue quarterback Drew Brees. Walton will be looking to repeat history — again.

— ND —