Glencoe, Sports

Walker not a walk-on any longer. Former NT hockey player earns Indiana U. football scholarship

Trey Walker knew he was done with hockey after his senior season playing with New Trier.

But the 2019 NTHS graduate wasn’t ready to be done with sports.

“I didn’t know what to do with myself,” he said in a phone interview with The Record.

The solution? Walk on to the Indiana University football team despite never having played the sport — apart from some flag football — in his life.

“Me and my dad had been talking about playing football throughout high school,” Walker said. “But it never really worked out. Once hockey ended, I made the decision to kind of go for it.”

It turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life. Walker, of Winnetka, is a star in the classroom — an Academic All-Big Ten selection with a bachelor’s degree who’s working on a master’s, and owner of the highest GPA on the Hoosiers’ roster.

He’s also now a scholarship tight end as of August of this year.

“I still can’t believe it,” Walker said. “I’ll be sitting here sometimes and I’ll look at the video (thinking), ‘Wow, that actually happened.'”

The video in question played on the Jumbotron at IU’s Memorial Stadium after an August practice. It was a clip of Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore character prepping for a hockey tryout by going into a batting cage without a helmet.

Walker’s face was superimposed onto Sandler’s, and Walker had an idea what was coming.

“Yeah, once I saw the video, I figured, ‘No one else on the team had seen this movie,'” he said.

At the end of the video was a caption: “Trey Walker, former hockey player turned … IU varsity football player.”

The road to that point wasn’t always easy.

He connected with the IU football staff coming out of high school and sent some hockey film so the coaches could at least see his size and athleticism. He was medically cleared and went to an open tryout for aspiring walk-ons.

“I’m not going to lie,” Walker said. “It was a pretty rough time. Everything was kind of a struggle because I didn’t know what I was doing.”

But he had some things going for him, including a 6-5, 255-pound frame, the physicality one would expect from a former hockey player and a relentless work ethic.

“I kept setting goals for myself,” Walker said. “I just wanted to learn the position, learn the game. Each year I set a new goal for myself.”

Along the way, he racked up honors in the classroom and on the field: two-time Academic All-Big Ten, two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, five-time scout team player of the week, and offensive scout team player of the year in 2020.

Walker made his collegiate debut in 2021, playing in two games as a redshirt sophomore, and he played in five games last season.

Every year, he raised the bar.

“Once I became an upperclassman, I’m like, ‘OK, it’s go time now,'” he said.

He made his 2023 debut in the Hoosiers’ win over Indiana State last Friday.

“The goal is definitely to be a major contributor,” Walker said.

And as he’s demonstrated, when Walker sets a goal, he usually reaches it.

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Mike Clark

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