David Walkeris in his sixth season as running backs coach at Pitt and has been instrumental in helping the Panthers develop a potent, game-changing rushing attack.
Pitt is quickly developing a reputation for producing top-flight backs. Former Panthers LeSean McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling enjoyed productive rookie years in the NFL last year, while Dion Lewis arrived on the Pitt scene in 2009 and finished his debut season as the most decorated freshman in college football.
The country's third-leading rusher (138.38 yards per game), Lewis was named the National Freshman of the Year by Sporting News and CBSSports.com. He was selected to no fewer than eight All-America teams and additionally was honored as the Big East's Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, becoming the first player since Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick in 1999 to earn both honors in the same season.
Lewis rushed for 1,799 yards on 325 carries (5.5 avg.), surpassing the 36-year-old Pitt freshman mark held by the legendary Tony Dorsett (1,686 in 1973). Overall, Lewis' total was the second-highest single-season rushing mark in Pitt history, trailing only Dorsett's 2,150 yards in 1976, the same year he won the Heisman Trophy and the Panthers won the national championship with a 12-0 record.
Lewis totaled 18 touchdowns (17 rushing) for a Pitt freshman-record 108 points, breaking the prior frosh record of 90 set in 2007 by McCoy.
McCoy, now of the Philadelphia Eagles, was a major beneficiary of Walker's influence. In just two collegiate seasons, he rushed for 2,816 yards and scored 36 touchdowns, both Pitt records for production as a freshman and sophomore.
A 2008 unanimous All-Big East selection and the media's Big East Offensive Player of the Year, McCoy ranked second in the nation in scoring (tied, 9.69 points/game) and 10th in rushing (114.46 yards/game) that year. He finished with 1,488 yards to become only the third Pitt running back to achieve multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Stephens-Howling was a four-year letterman at tailback for Pitt and now is a member of the Arizona Cardinals. Stephens-Howling compiled more than 3,100 all-purpose yards as a Panther.
In total, Walker has coached eight backs who have gone on to play in the NFL.
Before joining Pitt, Walker served as running backs coach at Syracuse from 1995-2004, and tutored four 1,000-yard rushers in his last five years with the Orange.
Syracuse boasted a potent 1-2 punch in the backfield in 2004 with All-Big East running backs Walter Reyes and Damien Rhodes combining for 1,673 yards and 17 touchdowns. Reyes finished his career as SU's second all-time leading rusher with 3,424 yards.
Walker oversaw four consecutive 1,000-yard rushers from 2000-03, a Syracuse record. In '03, Reyes rushed for 1,347 yards, the second-highest single-season total in school history. His 21 touchdowns set an Orange record. Overall, Walker coached three of the Orange's top seven all-time leading rushers.
A 1993 graduate of Syracuse, Walker was an outstanding running back himself, twice earning All-Big East honors. He captained the 1992 team, leading it to a No. 6 national ranking, 10-2 overall record and 26-22 victory over Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl. Walker remains the sixth-leading rusher in Orange history with 2,643 yards.
Following a year as an assistant coach at Miami's Carol City High School in 1994-95, Walker rejoined his alma mater and helped the Orange to four Big East championships. Including his playing career, he has been part of 13 bowl games.
Walker earned his bachelor's degree in physical education in 1993.
Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
Alma Mater: Syracuse, '93
Family: Walker and his wife Marilin have two sons, Jalen (10) and Jordan (8).
Years/Position: 1995-2004, running backs.
Years/Position: 2005-present, running backs.
Carol City (Fla.)
Years/Position: 1994, assistant coach.
Panthers Place Nine on 2016 Coaches All-ACC Team
Johnson, Henderson Named Sporting News All-Americans
Pitt Earns Invitation to New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Ejuan Price Named Finalist for Ted Hendricks Award
Brian O'Neill Selected as a Piesman Trophy Finalist
James Conner Named Winner Of ACC's Brian Piccolo Award